Opinion Can ‘Bystander Intervention Training’ Stop Hate Crimes?
Senate faces a new post-tragedy quagmire as anti-Asian hate crimes rise
While lawmakers in both parties condemn wrongdoing after traumatic events, enacting a law that addresses them is again proving elusive.As the nation reels from an Atlanta shooting that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, President Joe Biden has thrown his weight behind two bills aimed at improving hate crimes reporting. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday one of the bills would be a top priority next month. So far, however, not a single Republican has endorsed it.
New Yorkers were horrified last week when a man, kicking her repeatedly in the head as police say he shouted anti-Asian hate slurs. The surveillance footage from the building spread rapidly online because it captured two cruelties: the violence itself, and the inaction of three men watching it from inside the lobby. One of them closed the door, leaving the woman writhing alone on the sidewalk.
????WANTED for ASSAULT: Do you know this guy? On 3/29/21 at approx 11:40 AM, in front of 360 W 43 St in Manhattan, the suspect punched and kicked a 65-year-old woman while making anti-Asian statements. Any info? DMor anonymously call them at 800-577-TIPS.
Justice Department to review how best to fight hate crimes
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday ordered a review of how the Justice Department can best deploy its resources to combat hate crimes during a surge in incidents targeting Asian Americans. Garland issued a department-wide memo announcing the 30-day review, citing the “recent rise in hate crimes and hate incidents, particularly the disturbing trend in reports of violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community since the start of the pandemic.” The memo comes as a number of police departments across the U.S.— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews)
After outrage on social media, the door staff was suspended; in a news conference, Mayor Bill De Blasio called their lack of intervention for the woman, identified as Vilma Kai, “absolutely unacceptable.” He also addressed the latter with an increasingly familiar term: bystander intervention training, also sometimes called upstander training. “That type of training is crucial,” he said. “We do want to make sure as many people as possible get that.”
Such courses have been promoted often in recent weeks alongside a surge of, encouraged by and promoted by Asian American Pacific Islander activists on social media. Hollaback!, a New York nonprofit, reports that 45,000 people have registered for their since the , compared to the approximately 16,000 people they trained the entire previous year. The city government’s Commission on Human Rights says enrollment has risen, too, for their in Mandarin, Korean, and English, and they have increased sessions offered to meet demand.
Biden takes aim at anti-Asian hate crimes after Tammy Duckworth blasts “offensive” White House call
AAPI advocates call for Biden to do more in response to rise of vicious pandemic-era bigotry, hate crimes Tammy Duckworth and Joe Biden Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images
“I think now, we all realize we have to show up for each other. We have to do more,” said Hollaback! cofounder and executive director Emily May. “Bystander intervention tools work because they’re simply guidance on how people can take care of people.”
Bystander intervention is a strategy that teaches onlookers to insert themselves both indirectly and directly into harassment incidents, overriding the common instinct to feel frozen or unsure in such situations. It’s tailored to verbal and non-violent scenarios, such as a person using hate speech or following someone down the street, and it’s not a new school of thought: Ahas been taught on college campuses since 2006. The name itself references the “bystander effect,” the social psychological theory that individuals are less likely to intervene in a crisis when other people are present, studied after the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, which was reported at the time to have been witnessed by 38 people who did not intervene but was later proven to be false.
Asian Americans are least likely to report hate incidents, new research shows
The reluctance to report could have to do with fear of retaliation as well as a concern over whether justice will be served, one researcher said.The survey, released Tuesday by AAPI Data, a policy and research nonprofit goup, showed that Asian Americans have experienced hate incidents at a significantly higher percentage than the general population, but are also among the least likely to say they are “very comfortable” reporting hate crimes to authorities.
Hollaback!’s “5 D’s” method, which they debuted in 2012, is the most widely used in New York, including in the city’s Commission on Human Rights classes. Its tactics: “Distract” (pretending to know the person being harassed, dropping a drink near the harasser, etc.), “Delegate” (asking a nearby authority figure for help), “Delay” (checking in with the harassed person afterward), “Direct” (verbally confronting the harasser), and “Document” (recording video of the incident). Hollaback! classes particularly encourage the indirect options: in the Zoom class I attended, instructor Erika Dautruche joked that theater students and dramatic personalities often favor the “distract” strategy because it can include improvisational acting and disorienting bursts of public singing. For whatever it suggests about my fellow pupils, they overwhelmingly preferred the “distract” choice in a mid-class poll.
“One of the leading misconceptions is that bystander intervention always requires you directly telling the person doing the harassing to stop. That’s certainly one strategy, but there are others,” said May. “It’s not about strapping on your superhero spandex and swooping down to save the day. It’s about helping in a way that feels safe and comfortable.”
Anti-Asian hate crimes, George Floyd trial: The world is watching how we handle racism
There is more we must do, especially now, to address racism in America. Our officials must be held to account for how quickly and thoroughly they manage these issues. Fortunately, after the recent proliferation of hate crimes against Asian Americans, there is an urgency to stop this hate and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.Joseph R. DeTrani was the former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, the former director of the National Counterproliferation Center, and a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Since March 2020, Hollaback! has also offered sessions focused specifically on intervening in anti-Asian harassment situations. These classes, held in partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, include educational segments on the racism and xenophobia AAPI communities have historically faced in America and testimonials from Asian people on hate speech and aggressions they’ve experienced. These classes also use the 5 D’s.
Carmelyn P. Malalis, chair and commissioner of the city Commission on Human Rights, said that the goal of bystander training is to build new “muscle memory” for when harassment occurs.
“We want to make sure that we are arming people in New York City with tools that they can use, so when they see something happen, they’re not thinking ‘What can I do?’ or, 10 minutes after the fact, ‘What should I have done?’” she said.
Malalis said she once used the “distract” tactic herself on the subway, about 15 years ago, to success. “I saw a woman being harassed by someone on the train, and people were just staring, frozen and feeling uncomfortable. Out of nowhere, I started singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ as loudly as I could,” she said. “As ridiculous as it was, it had the intended effect of startling the person who was harassing the woman. They walked away and then I was able to go to the woman and ask if she was okay.”
New bid for hate crime laws in Wyoming, 1 of 3 states without them
Wyoming lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill aimed at combating hate crimes in the state where Matthew Shepard was killed in 1998. © Andy Carpenean / AP Anti-Discrimination More than two decades later, Wyoming remains without the law even though the 2009 federal anti-hate crime law bears Shepard's name. A state hate crime bill narrowly failed to pass the legislature the year after Shepard's killing, and several more attempts to introduce bills since then have failed to gain traction, according to a report on hate crimes in Wyoming issued by an advisory committee to the U.S.
Research has supported bystander intervention as effective: in a 2012 study, analysts at the Worker Institute at Cornell University found that when a bystander confronted a harasser, the harassment was more likely to end. (The study was conducted in partnership with Hollaback!.)
But as bystander intervention training becomes more popular in New York, some AAPI leaders are wary of putting too much credence in it. Rachel Hu, an organizer for ANSWER Coalition, a group that has staged protests against anti-Asian violence and China-bashing political rhetoric, said leaders such as de Blasio’s encouragement of citizen training can deflect from their own responsibilities.
“Bystander intervention is helpful in terms of a short-term solution, but it just isn’t enough to get to the scale of the problem,” said Hu. “There are bigger systems to hold accountable and bigger fish to fry. Where’s the money from the mayor’s office to fund Asian organizations on the ground that can actually reach our communities?”
Dr. Joel Dimsdale, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego who has studied the bystander effect, cautioned against believing such intervention strategies can deescalate violence, as De Blasio’s promotion of the training after Monday’s attack could be interpreted as doing.
“One of my concerns is that the circumstances vary enormously. If you take that horrible attack, it was extraordinarily violent. On the other extreme is harassment with words,” he said. “It seems to me that bystander intervention programs may do better with the latter than the former, but I think teaching people to speak up sounds plausible and reasonable.”
Dr. Katherine Fox-Glassman, a lecturer at Columbia University who has taught cognitive psychology and risk perception, said that bystander intervention training’s practice scenarios can be beneficial in making racial hate more relatable for people who haven’t experienced it personally.
“Things that are psychologically closer to us, we tend to take more seriously and be more likely to act on,” she said. “Psychologically distant concepts tend to inspire more ‘why?’ questions, while psychologically close concepts are more likely to inspire ‘how?’ questions. Asking ‘why should I stand up against racism and hate?’ will get an abstract answer that’s likely compelling, but not as likely to lead to specific actions. But asking ‘how can I help protect a person who is being verbally or physically attacked?’ gives us a clear path to action.”
Still, in these intimidating times, proponents of bystander intervention training are optimistic about its potential.
“We’ve always had anti-Asian American sentiment in this country, but we’ve never seen such a tremendous response from our allies and the Asian American community itself,” said May. “We’re going to figure this out, we’re going to get trained, and we’re going to make sure that we build a world where our friends, our neighbors, and our elders aren’t being harassed and attacked just for being Asian.”
Bipartisan lawmakers call for action on anti-hate crime measures .
A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers are pushing for legislative action to combat the uptick in hate crimes seen in the United States.In the latest calls for action to be taken to prevent racially motivated crimes, lawmakers introduced the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act on Thursday.The legislation looks to improve the mechanism for reporting hate crimes, providing grants through the Department of Justice to state and local law enforcement to enhance their systems of providing hate crime data to the relevant national systems such as the FBI.