North Hempstead, in consultation with the town’s Asian American Advisory Committee, has partnered with a Washington, D.C.-based empowerment group to host a free virtual training session to teach residents how to recognize and respond to verbal and physical threats.
The event will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, starting at 6:30 p.m.
For the training, North Hempstead enlisted Lauren R. Taylor, founder and director of Defend Yourself, who has taught more than 35,000 people skills on how to prevent and handle harassment, abuse and assault.
“I believe that having skills and practicing them, which is something we do in the workshop, are the antidote to some of the barriers we all have,” Taylor said.
Her course offers reasons to intervene when you see a problem, five steps and tools of bystander intervention, and overcoming barriers when considering intervening.
According to a report published by Stop AAPI Hate — a nonprofit group that tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States — there were 10,905 hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals reported to the coalition between March 19, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021. In 2020, 4,632 hate incidents were reported, compared to 6,273 last year.
In April 2021, the town announced the formation of an Asian American Advisory Committee in response to the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in New York and around the country.
“This precipitated during the pandemic and there was concern in the Asian American community about the pandemic and the anti-Asian hate,” said Christine Liu, a member of North Hempstead’s Asian American Advisory Committee.
Liu, of New Hyde Park, said phrases used to describe the pandemic such as “kung flu” or the “China virus” contributed to Asian Americans being targeted.
“It became fearful as we saw so many attacks on Asian Americans,” Liu said. “We saw [attacks] in the subways, on the streets, in the news.”
Liu, who is also a member of the Herricks Chinese Association, said the community group will also host a four-part training series starting this month.
“I think everybody is in that same mindset of how to protect ourselves better and to be smarter wherever we go,” Liu said.
Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey, who spearheaded the training initiative, helped establish the Asian American Advisory Committee last year.
“It is imperative that the residents of my district and throughout the greater North Hempstead community are well-educated regarding hate crimes and how to act when witnessing one," Lurvey said.