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Asian undercover police set to deploy in New York to combat hate crimes

 As hate crimes against Asians continues to rise in more cities in the U.S. New York City has stepped up their strategy to combat the crime by deploying all-Asian undercover police force and expand community outreach.

“If you are going to commit a hate crime in New York City, we will find you,” New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in unveiling the two-pronged plan to fight bias crimes.

“We are not going to tolerate anyone being targeted because of the colour of their skin, the religion they worship, their sexual preference or anything else,” Shea said.

Just days after a spate of assaults on Asian-Americans in New York last weekend, Shea said he was ramping up the NYPD’s undercover force with plain-clothed officers, all of them of Asian descent.

Starting this weekend, they will patrol undergrounds, grocery stores and other locations to stem anti-Asian incidents that total 26 so far this year, including 12 assaults, police said.

“The next person you target through speech or menacing activity may be a plain-clothed New York police officer – so think twice,” Shea said.

The 26 incidents so far have resulted in seven arrests, police said. Those incidents included 12 assaults so far this year, three of them last weekend, police said. By comparison, at this time last year, there were no assaults reported against Asian-Americans, police said.

Because hate crimes too often go unreported, now anyone dialling emergency services can utter a single English word in their native language – such as Mandarin – and police operators will help access translators who speak more than 200 languages, police said.

Advocates tied the surge in hate crimes to blame that has been placed on the Asian-American Pacific Islander community for the coronavirus spread.

The community reported a spike in violence since March 2020, when then-President Donald Trump started repeatedly referring to Covid-19 as the “China virus” and “kung flu,” which some said inflamed anti-Asian sentiment.

Hate crimes against Asian-Americans rose by 149 per cent in 2020 in 16 major cities compared with 2019, according to the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Violent incidents included people being slashed with a box cutter, lit on fire and verbal harassment, according to testimony at a US congressional hearing on anti-Asian violence convened this month.

The most deadly incident was this month’s shooting spree at three Atlanta area spas that left eight people dead, six of them Asian women.

A 21-year-old white man has been charged with multiple counts of murder, and police investigating motives have not ruled out the possibility that the attacks were provoked, at least in part, by anti-immigrant or anti-Asian sentiments.

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