NEW YORK - Hate crimes against Asians in New York City are making headlines in recent weeks but city leaders fear many more hate crimes may be going under-reported. Many victims keep silent, especially Asian American senior citizens.
Salvation Army Major Soo Kim works with seniors at the Salvation Army in Hempstead, Long Island.
"It's hard for them to really describe their experience," Kim said. "They are fearful of how to communicate across in the arena unfamiliar to them."
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New York State Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou represents Lower Manhattan neighborhoods including the Lower East Side, Chinatown, South Street Seaport, the Financial District, and Battery Park City.
"They feel a little bit of fright and shame and there's also a lack of access to resources," Niou said.
The biggest obstacle to reporting crimes to police is the language barrier, advocates told FOX 5 NY. The problem goes both ways. Victims are unable to communicate a problem to cops, and the NYPD doesn't have enough officers to translate to better understand what's happening.
Chris Kwok is a board member of the Asian American Bar Association of New York. He said even if something doesn't rise to the level of a hate crime by law, seniors and others need to report the harassment or violation to the police. It allows authorities to see if a pattern is developing.
"Having an official record of these things is useful for tracking the sentiment of anti-Asian hate and harassment," Kwok said.
Niou said education is another useful weapon against hate crimes.
"Teach Asian American history in our schools. I think understanding we belong here, too. We are human," Niou said. "I hate that we have to even say that but that in itself is one step to helping people understand not to 'other' my community."