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De Blasio says NYPD should confront people for non-criminal ‘hurtful’ conduct

Mayor Bill de Blasio outside the Javits Center on Sunday, April 5, 2020. (Michael Appleton/NY Daily News/TNS)
March 19, 2021

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the New York Police Department should confront individuals who have behaved in a hateful or racist way, in an effort to educate them on hateful conduct.

During a press conference on Thursday, the Democrat mayor encouraged people to report such behavior even if it’s not necessarily criminal, adding that a visit from city law enforcement could have a “sobering impact” on people causing them to change course in the future.

“Even if something is not a criminal case, a perpetrator being confronted by the city, whether it’s NYPD or another agency, and being told that what they’ve done was very hurtful to another person—and could, if ever repeated, lead to criminal charges—that’s another important piece of the puzzle,” de Blasio said.

“One of the things officers are trained to do is to give warnings. If someone has done something wrong, but not rising to a criminal level, it’s perfectly appropriate for an NYPD officer to talk to them to say, ‘that was not appropriate, and if you did that on a higher level, that would be a crime,’ he continued. “I think that has an educating impact on people, I think that has a sobering impact that we need.”

De Blasio’s suggestion comes amid a surge of anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. According to a recent study, crimes targeting Asians increased 150 percent in 2020, with hate crimes overall dropping 7 percent.

Published this week by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, the study assessed hate crimes reported to local police departments in 16 American cities. New York City saw the biggest spike, going from just 3 to 28. Hate crimes against Asians also jumped from 6 to 14 in Boston and 7 to 15 in Los Angeles.

Also are the rise are “hate incidents”: acts of prejudice that aren’t crimes. According to the advocacy group Stop AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Hate, over 2,800 hate incidents against Asian Americans have been reported since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s very disturbing to me, I’m sad to say it’s not surprising, but it’s very disturbing,” said Anne A. Cheng, a comparative race scholar and professor at Princeton University. “It’s part of a very long systemic cultural discrimination against Asians in this country.”

In August, a two-year investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) found Yale University’s undergraduate admissions process “illegally discriminates” against White and Asian students.

According to a Justice Department press release, the investigation revealed that “race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year,” violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The DOJ said the Ivy League school can no longer use race or national origin in admissions standards, and if the university intends to consider race in the future, “it must first submit to the Department of Justice a plan demonstrating its proposal is narrowly tailored as required by law, including by identifying a date for the end of race discrimination.”

Yale subsequently denied the department’s allegations and accused the DOJ of making its conclusion prematurely. University spokeswoman Karen Peart said Yale’s admissions practices “absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent.”

The DOJ’s investigation found that Asian American and White students are one-tenth to one-fourth as likely to be accepted into Yale as Black students with similar academic resumes.

“There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination,” said Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Rights Division. “Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division. It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin.”

The Justice Department added, “Yale rejects scores of Asian American and White applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit.”