It’s is one thing to be called “Kung-Flu” or “Ching Chong Ching” but it’s another to be threatened or physically attacked when you are with a loved one.
Hate crimes against Asians are absolutely on the uptick and many have asked what can be done in response. The following answers are to be considered in conjunction with actual legal advice from a live attorney. In all circumstances involving violence or weapons, it’s advisable that your first step be a non-violent one.
Nevertheless, in some circumstances, this could be impossible, especially if you or a loved one are physically attacked. Here are some considerations:
Can we arm ourselves?
The answer is yes, but be smart about it. First off, if you want a firearm, get a license. Also take note, you cannot transport a firearm across state lines unless you are licensed to carry the firearm in both states. There are also varying levels of gun licensing:
+ Concealed carry
+ Possess your firearm on specific premises
+ Possess/carry your firearm for work
Err on the side of caution and educate yourself on state-specific rules regarding firearms and/or call a lawyer to discuss them.
Shotguns and Rifles
Shotguns do not require a license in New York State. However, NYC rules are more strict and require a permit. You must apply for a permit from the NYPD License Division. You must remember to renew your permit. Lastly, as a gun owner, you must keep up with any changes in the law regarding shotguns or rifles, if any.
However (on shotguns)..
Your shotgun can’t be sawed off. The barrel must be 18″ or more. If you are arrested with one, law enforcement will inspect the barrel with a ruler. Further:
- Shooting someone with a shotgun is unlawful and different from merely possessing a shotgun.
- Holding a shotgun while arguing with others is a Class A Misdemeanor or even a Class E Felony based on aggravating factors.
- Scratching off any of the serial numbers on the gun (there’s a presumption that something bad happened with it like there’s a body on it).
Shooting someone with a shotgun who has trespassed on your property while the trespasser was also armed is defensible. 100% if you ever face such a circumstance, contact an attorney.
What legal protective measures can we take?
Setup cameras. Setup signs stating that you have cameras. Consider the fact that cameras are now pretty much everywhere. If you ever get caught in an unfortunate situation where you were attacked, try to obtain footage of the event by going back to a location (if it’s safe) and look for doorbell cameras, cameras over doorways, ATM cameras, cameras setup on light poles. Contact an attorney to subpoena footage for you.
Get a dog
As laughable as this may sound, many law enforcement professionals can attest to the fact that dogs scare people and they are a great alarm system. While some alarm systems can fail, your dog is a trustworthy companion. They are also more aesthetically pleasing than bear-spray.
Find a Concealable Legal Weapon
First off, there’s a caveat for any protective “product/item/tool/gadget/etc” that one would find on Walmart, Amazon, Etsy or eBay to name a few. There is a catchall under New York Penal Law § 265.01(2), which makes any object potentially illegal, for which you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor:
A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:
(2) He or she possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, machete, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another;
Here, “any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon” can be anything. A taser. A stiletto heel. A stick you use to roast a hot dog over a campfire. A steel bead rosary that doubles as a choking apparatus. All these items can be purchased online legally but the legality of the item changes when you use it to hurt another or somehow act in a manner that seems as though you intend to use it to hurt another.
Who do we contact if we have fallen victim to a hate crime?
Reporting these incidents is the best way to combat or possibly prevent them from happening in the future. Once these individuals start committing hate crimes and it’s recorded, judges have more leeway to keep these individuals in jail or under the thumb of parole or other law enforcement offices.
1. Police: Call 911. This is so that you can have a report made contemporaneously and to obtain protection from a would-be attacker or further attack. 911 calls are all recorded and can be admitted as evidence against your attacker in a trial.
2. Attorney General: Many states have hotlines set up to take reports of hate crimes against Asians.
Office of the New York Attorney General’s Hate Crimes and Bias Prevention Unit hotline at 1-800-771-7755.
3. District Attorneys Offices: Most hate crimes are going to be prosecuted by these offices based on the borough where the attack occurred.
Bronx: Crime Victims Assistance Unit 718-590-2115
Brooklyn: Hate Crimes Hotline at 718-250-4949
Manhattan: Hate Crimes Hotline at 212-335-3100
Queens: HateCrimes@queensda.org or call 718.286.7010
Staten Island: Victim Services Unit (718) 697-8333
Can I be arrested for defending myself and I end up hurting my attacker?
Yes. If you hurt your attacker, and the police were not present for the incident, there is an undoubted chance that you can be arrested. If your attacker’s injuries happen to be more visible than your injuries, the police may end up arresting you instead of your attacker. As infuriating as this may sound, these situations happen everyday and commonly to people of color.
For this reason, it is vital that you exercise your constitutional right to remain silent and consult with an attorney before you breathe a word to police. Don’t try to explain your situation and end up in worse legal trouble.
In situations involving altercations, demand to speak to a lawyer the second you have police contact. Saying the word “LAWYER” instantly activates your constitutional right to remain silent. Police must stop in their tracks and not speak to you about the incident until you have consulted with an attorney and your attorney is by your side.
In most situations, it is best to peacefully follow the arrest process and allow a lawyer to do the talking and clear your name.