New York City has seen a staggering increase in hate crime compared to 2020, according to the NYPD team tracking the numbers, a worrying increase fueled primarily by anti-Asian and anti-Semitic crime.
The number of hate crimes in the five districts increased by a whopping 100 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, so far 503 have been counted. This compares to just 22 in 2020.
“We publish these statistics, that can often alarm the public, nothing is more important to us than these cases, so they have higher penalties. Because it’s not just about one person, but about attacking an entire group or class.” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Crime widely viewed as anti-Asian or anti-Semitic makes up the bulk of the inflated numbers, with anti-Asian crime increasing 361 percent. According to the NYPD, there have been 129 anti-Asian crimes and 183 anti-Semitic crimes.
A hate crime review panel was set up in early 2021 after an alarming number of attacks against the Asian community spurred on by COVID-19 misinformation. The panel, which meets once a month, also deals with incidents against gays, Muslims and blacks. The review of more than 100 crimes so far found only two cases involving swastikas that were not initially viewed as hate crimes but later viewed as biased acts.
“It clearly walked like a duck, looked like a duck, and we unanimously decided that it was a swastika,” said Devorah Halberstam, who is on the task force.
NYPD chief James Essig, who heads the task force, said investigators who learned about bias incidents helped them be better equipped to fight hatred.
The task force is still looking for suspects in four of the most recent cases, including one in which a man on a bicycle used anti-Asian slurs to abuse a woman in Midtown Manhattan. Three women or girls are also wanted for beating and pushing three Jewish children in various attacks in Brooklyn – one of the victims was only 3 years old.
“This is a pattern of hate crime and is particularly worrying given the age of the victims,” said Essig.