Legal professionals volunteer their time to fight anti-Asian hatred – AsAmNews
By Lia Reichmann, AsAmNews intern
A recent report by Stop AAPI Hate found that more than 11,400 hate incidents were reported against Asian Americans between March 2020 and March 2022. Two nonprofit organizations are stepping in to help provide legal assistance to victims of anti-Asian hate crimes.
Asia-Pacific American National Bar Association
Founded in 1988 after the murder of Vincent Chin, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) has worked for decades to represent the AANHPI community.
According to their website, NAPABA is the only national APA bar association. They represent “the interests of 60,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students”.
NAPABA creates resources for victims of hate crimes and helps those affected. Navdeep Singh, acting director of policy at NAPABA, said they have “in language” resources and toolkits for victims of hate, as well as organized trainings to talk about hate crimes. They also created a community service corps made up of member attorneys interested in providing pro bono work across the country.
“I think one of the most exciting things NAPABA has done, beyond our policy and advocacy work, is the mobilization we’ve done within the Asian American, Hawaiian, Islander legal community. of the Pacific and beyond, to combat anti-Asian hatred and to help individuals get the assistance they need to file a hate crime complaint and get the legal representation they need,” said Singh told AsAmNews.
“I’m especially proud of the hate crime or incident reporting tool we’ve created online on our website, NAPABA.org, to help connect individuals to pro bono, which is an assistance legal assistance to victims and their families,” added Singh.
Data released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism revealed that anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 339% in 2021. Many cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles saw record numbers of crimes anti-Asian.
“The reason for the increase in hate incidents against the AANHPI community is multifactorial. First, we need to recognize that hate incidents are increasing against all diverse communities and that acts of hate targeting the AANHPI community are occurring in this context,” Singh said.
“Secondly, we are well aware of, and reports and lived experiences from members of our communities have demonstrated that there has been an increase in anti-Asian prejudice and anti-Asian scapegoating due to things like fears around of COVID-19 and fears around the profiling of Asian Americans due to anti-Chinese sentiment.
Singh said there are plans to expand the service corps and the Asian American Crime Victims and Education Fund, a fund that provides financial assistance. Singh also said one of NAPABA’s goals is to create a national network of Asian American lawyers “who are able and ready to act.”
“Addressing anti-Asian hatred is a fundamental principle for us and the key element of our initiatives and our strategic plan for the next two years, as we recognize that this problem is not going away and that our communities and other communities are going to continue to need help,” Singh said. “As a legal association, with members committed to the rule of law, and championing diversity and professionalism, we are all committed to supporting communities in need.”
The Asian American Justice Alliance
Another organization working to help victims of hate crimes is the Asian American Justice Alliance, or the Alliance, a nonprofit organization comprising a network of more than 90 law firms across the country.
The Alliance was formed last spring at a time when Asian American victims of violence may need legal representation. Jacqueline Chung, an attorney at White & Case LLP in New York, joined the Alliance during what she calls the “first phase of the Alliance”.
“The founders of the organization and the board came up with the idea that this organization, the Alliance, would provide free and free legal services to any victim of anti-Asian violence,” Chung said in an interview with AsAmNews.
According to their website, victims of anti-Asian hatred are referred to “Participating Alliance” law firms based on their geographic location, the lawyers’ “linguistic and cultural affinity with the victims”, and the expertise of a lawyer “corresponding to the types of key services required”.
Although Chung does not have an official title, she helps work with the Alliance’s board of directors. She also helps coordinate which cases go to which law firm and which lawyer.
“We are looking for a clear incidence of hate,” she said. “So we would make the admission and then we would reach out and if we decide that this is a case that the Alliance can take on, we would contact a law firm here on the East Coast and see if they would be willing to represent this victim pro bono.
She said that when she joined the Alliance, people felt helpless reading about the acts of violence against Asians.
“I think I felt like a lot of other lawyers, Asian lawyers felt at the time that there was something we could do, there was something we should do to help,” he said. Chung said.
Chung was invited by Tai Park, who is a board member and helps coordinate cases on the East Coast, to help the Alliance. She said she found her work with Alliance to be a “very fruitful and meaningful experience”.
“I think some of the things I will never forget is talking directly with the victim and understanding the experiences they went through, including talking to the family members of the victims, who actually died because they were killed as a result of anti-Asian violence. “, Chung said. “So talking with their family members, after losing a loved one, about such an act of violence makes you realize how real it is and how necessary it is to s ensure that these people or their families are properly represented and cared for.
According to Chung, the Alliance seeks to do more preventive work against anti-Asian violence. She said the Alliance’s first phase focused on responding to violence and crime.
“We are looking at preventative measures, or just making sure there are safeguards in place so that victims receive the proper care so that they are also treated properly in the eyes of society,” Chung said.
Some of the preventative measures Chung talked about included working with police departments and prosecutors.
“I think we realize that the needs of victims extend beyond just legal services and the needs of the community extend beyond just providing legal services,” Chung said. “I think there is also a huge educational component. So that involves educating the community about their rights, educating the community about standing up, reporting acts of hate, because one of the issues we’re dealing with is that victims are reluctant to report.
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