Nassau Legislature schedules hearing on anti-Asian incidents for April 8

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The Nassau County Legislature will hold a hearing on the preparedness of the county police department in the event of an anti-Asian attack on April 8. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Legislator Joshua Lafazan)

The Nassau County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee will conduct a hearing on anti-Asian incidents and the state of preparedness of the county’s police department if an attack were to occur on April 8, officials announced Friday.

Estimates show around 10 percent of the county’s population is comprised of Asian Americans.

Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said anti-Asian incidents will not be tolerated throughout the county and touted the importance to have places of worship remain safe and secure locations for people who use them.

We have scheduled a Public Safety hearing to ensure that the NCPD is proactively acting to prevent hate crimes and protect our residents, houses of worship and businesses,” Nicolello said. “It is important to send a message to every community in Nassau County, that hatred, violence and discrimination will not be tolerated, and that our law enforcement is working tirelessly to keep you safe.”

The hearing comes after growing anti-Asian incidents throughout the nation, most recently, a shooting in an Atlanta spa that left eight people dead, which included six Asian women.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) backed a new federal bill, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, that would provide the U.S. Department of Justice with more resources to investigate hate crimes.

“I stand with our neighbors and friends from the Asian American community to announce my backing of a federal bill that would give the DOJ more tools, and locals more help, to stem this tide of intolerance, investigate hate crimes – in every corner or place they might occur—and ease the worry across the city and Long Island,” Schumer said.

Officials said more than 3,800 anti-Asian incidents were reported throughout the nation in 2020. There was also a 149-percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the 16 largest cities throughout the U.S. in 2020, officials said.

In Nassau County, the Great Neck school district was the subject of a letter from nearly 40 parents reporting that younger students of Asian descent had been asked if they ate bats and were called “COVID-19 spreaders” by other students. District Superintendent Teresa Prendergast said at the time that no anti-Asian incidents had occurred on school grounds.

Local officials and community leaders led by Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan (I-Woodbury) attended a “Stand Up to Hate” rally with hundreds of people to condemn increases in bias incidents and violence against Asian-Americans in the age of COVID-19 in mid-March.

Lafazan’s office coordinated the event, held on the front steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, with Gordon Zhang, president of the Long Island Chinese American Association, and Farrah Mozawalla, executive director of Nassau County’s Office of Asian American Affairs.

“It’s on all of us to speak out in a loud, unified, and categorical voice to demand an end to this violence,” Lafazan said during the rally.

The rally was attended by elected leaders, including Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), multiple members of the New York Senate and Assembly, North Hempstead Town Clerk Wayne Wink and Nassau County Legislator Ellen W. Birnbaum (D-Great Neck).

“Nassau County is standing together against the rising tide of Anti-Asian hate,” Curran said. “Although there have been no reported hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans in Nassau, the attacks we’re seeing in our state are alarming and unacceptable. Now and always there is no home for hate in Nassau.”

“The steady stream of hateful rhetoric linking Asian-Americans with COVID-19 and the ensuing number of anti-Asian hate crimes is abhorrent,” Suozzi said. “It is incumbent upon all of us to do everything in our power to call out and reject xenophobia and racism each and every time it rears its ugly head. We must always ensure that hate will never win.”

“The recent wave of hate crimes across the country, particularly against the Asian-American community, must stop,” DiNapoli said. “We must speak out against any form of hate and discrimination directed toward our fellow Americans and New Yorkers. Our neighbors must know we have their backs, and we won’t tolerate any violence or threats of violence or intimidation against anyone.”

Community leaders like Tracey Edwards, Long Island regional director of the NAACP; Dr. Isma Chaudhry, spokesperson and past president of the Islamic Center of Long Island; Eric Post, Long Island regional director of the American Jewish Committee; Andrea Bolender, chair of the board of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County; and Dr. Asiah Mason, CEO of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, which provided American Sign Language interpreters for the event; also spoke.

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