Flushing, NY – This Monday, Assemblymember Ron Kim joined his colleagues in denouncing the rising tensions and targeting of Asian Americans in New York during the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak. He was joined by Assemblymembers Rodneyse Bichotte and Clyde Vanel, State Senator John Liu, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Councilman Donovan Richards, and a representative from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ office. They stood with him in solidarity against the growing number of attacks and racially-charged encounters, including but not limited to a woman with a face mask being assaulted, a subway passenger being sprayed with Febreze, and other troubling incidents. They decried the normalizing of images with Asian faces by the media, a prevailing practice seen in mainstream media outlets even long after COVID-19 had appeared widely in several across multiple continents.
The legislators restated the evident truth that the energy and efforts of our city and state should be focused on the virus itself, which can and has been spread by anyone, and not against any single face or community. They celebrated their recent swift passage of a $40 million in state emergency funds to combat the virus, while expressing dismay at the rise in incidents involving bias, violence and potential hate crimes. Asian American businesses in many industries throughout New York, particularly in the service and retail sector, have also suffered dramatic declines in revenue since the start of the crisis.
“While we are working overtime in Albany to provide the necessary funds and tools to protect all New Yorkers from the coronavirus, it is disheartening to see increasing incidents of verbal assaults and vicious attacks against Asian Americans,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim. “We must not let this virus become the trigger for a wave of pre-existing racist sentiments against Asian Americans. The virus does not see race, walls, or boundaries. Now is the time for solidarity, compassion, and empathy, not hatred, violence, and ugliness.”
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte stated: “Asian Americans are every part of our community as Haitian Americans, blacks, Latinos, and all other immigrants that make up our city. I will not sit idly while we allow some of our worst tendencies toward each other to rise during these stressful times. Let’s come together to hold our friends in the media accountable to stop using images of Asian Americans for the virus, and let’s all lead with more empathy and compassion for each other.”
Assemblymember Clyde Vanel stated: “I find it sad that our Asian American brothers and sisters, who are suffering the most economically due to the unwarranted fear of virus spreading in Asian communities, are also targets of hate crimes. I’m proud to join my colleagues to push back and tell all of our community members to work together.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng stated: “Naturally, there is much concern about coronavirus. But concern and fear about the illness is not an excuse to discriminate against Asian Americans. Any type of discrimination, regardless of the form it takes, is unacceptable, and must never be tolerated. As I have been saying, people must not panic about coronavirus. People should be vigilant and prudent, and listen to our health professionals, but still go about their daily routines.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams stated: “As the Governor has declared a state of emergency, and state and city governments are investing in the health and safety of New Yorkers, it’s critical that we act with caution and common sense both systemically and individually in the use of resources and in our own personal conduct. If you feel sick, stay home. As we continue to monitor the situation, our office urges New Yorker to follow the recommended guidelines. We cannot let fear and bigotry overcome facts amid the rise in coronavirus cases. Turning our backs on our fellow community members will only hurt us as a city. Our office stands in solidarity with our Asian American communities and all our immigrant communities, especially during these cases and the hysteria surrounding them. Placing blame on our friends and neighbors will do nothing to prevent Coronavirus. We must remain calm, but we must also stay vigilant – we need to listen to the experts and do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus and the spread of harmful and dangerous misinformation.”
State Senator John Liu stated: “The racist behavior is in some ways more frightening than the disease itself. Everyone is working hard to overcome the unprecedented spread of Coronavirus. At the same time we all also have to be ever-vigilant against negative stereotypes as well as outright racism and violence.”
“Currently New York is dealing with an emergency public health crisis due to the coronavirus — but our community is also facing another emergency: extreme anti-Asian xenophobia,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “There have been so many reports of Asian-Americans being attacked because they were just riding the subway, or wearing a face mask. Our community is losing business. Our community is hurt by this demonization. It is abundantly clear that the coronavirus does not discriminate based on race. It is unacceptable that despite this, there are people using it as an excuse to perpetuate racism and xenophobia throughout New York and the entire country. It is important that we stand together and remain educated on the growing emergency. Together we must stop the spread of the unfounded harmful stereotypes and hateful words that people are using to demonize our Asian American community through thoughtful and reasonable discussions.”
Left to Right: Councilman Donovan Richards, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, State Senator John Liu, Assemblymember Ron Kim, Assemblymember Clyde Vanel, Congressmember Grace Meng, Zachariah Boyer (representing Public Advocate Jumaane Williams)