- Approximately 1,800 New Yorkers volunteer with SafeWalks to escort Asian Americans out of a public area.
- Volunteers signed up in response to an increase in anti-Asian violence in New York and the United States.
- A 65-year-old Asian woman was most recently attacked on a sidewalk in New York City in broad daylight on Monday.
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More than 1,800 New Yorkers are committed to bringing Asian Americans from all public spheres to their destinations to combat and prevent anti-Asian violence and hate crimes.
Volunteers – many of whom speak Mandarin or Cantonese – patrol New York neighborhoods like Chinatown, offering escort services for anyone who asks for their help, Pix11 News reported.
The initiative is part of SafeWalks NYC, which launched in January after a series of attacks on women on the subway.
Volunteers, Pix11 News reports, hand out flyers and wear light-colored seat belts. Each shift lasts two hours. A fundraiser in support of the SafeWalks initiative has raised approximately $ 17,000 since it was posted on GoFundMe in February.
“We have to show our humanity. We must not let people hurt our seniors, our elders,” Lisa Gold told Pix11 News.
Anti-Asian violence has increased
There have been numerous anti-Asian attacks in New York City in the past few weeks.
It wasn’t until Monday that a 65-year-old Asian woman was attacked and yelled at on a sidewalk in New York City. Her attacker, 38-year-old Brandon Elliot, kicked her to the ground and stomped on her head repeatedly while two bouncers in a luxury apartment watched security material released by police. When Elliot left, the doormen closed the apartment doors on her.
At the national level, recent stories of anti-Asian violence paint a bleak picture as well.
Two weeks ago, police arrested a man in connection with a series of fatal shootings in three massage parlors in the Atlanta area. Six out of eight victims were Asian women. Each attack took place in three massage parlors within an hour on Tuesday.
The shooter, Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, suggested to police that the attacks were due to a sex addiction and were not racially motivated.
Several research studies have shown that crime and violence against Asia has increased over the past year.
For example, an analysis by the Center for Hate and Extremism Research at California State University in San Bernardino found that overall hate crimes decreased by 7% in 2020. The same study found that hate crimes, specifically against Asians, increased by around 150%.
Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit that tracks violence against Asian Americans and islanders in the Pacific, released a report that found nearly 3,800 cases of anti-Asian discrimination in the past year.
And that’s a very mild estimate, said Stop AAPI Hate in its report.
“The number of hate incidents reported to our center is only a fraction of the number that actually occurs, but it shows how vulnerable Asian Americans are to discrimination and the types of discrimination they face,” the report said.
“Not enough has been done to protect Asian Americans from increased levels of hatred, discrimination and violence. Concrete action must be taken now,” a press release from Stop AAPI Hate said. “Anything else is unacceptable.”
New York pedestrians who wish to request safe escort or volunteer can do so on the SafeWalks website, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by DMing the @ SafeWalksNYC handle on Instagram.