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Jennifer H. Wu Discusses New York’s Hate Crime Law With Spectrum News NY1

May 11, 2022

Litigation partner Jennifer H. Wu explained why it is difficult to prove a hate crime under New York law in Spectrum News NY1’s May 11 article, “Subway assault victim turned anti-Asian hate advocate.” The article describes efforts by activist Esther Lee to seek justice after an assault on the subway in which a man spit on her and called her a “carrier,” a slur presumably associating her Asian ethnicity with COVID-19. While the perpetrator was eventually charged, the NYPD found that the assault did not meet the requirements of New York’s current hate crime law, which says that the offense must be motivated in whole or substantial part by bias—a standard that is innately difficult to prove.

“It’s hard to prove why anyone hates someone else in the same way that it’s hard to explain why anyone loves someone else,” said Jennifer. “I think the problem with hate crimes is that we focus on the word hate. Does the defendant have hate when they commit the crime? In reality, what we're talking about is — did the victim feel unsafe and did this crime make the entire community feel unsafe?”

Shifting the focus to the safety of an impacted community is one way to evolve the hate crime statute to have a bigger impact, Jennifer told NY1.

“Every attack on Asians has the impact of making the Asian community feel afraid,” she said. “There is a sense that even if there’s no evidence of specific hate by the defendant, when an Asian woman is pushed off the subway, when an Asian woman is attacked on the street, that the Asian community is fearful, and does feel attacked.”

» read the article

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