As hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community are on the rise, Connecticut criminal justice leaders say they won’t stand for it.
Thursday, the FBI, state police, the attorney general, and state and federal prosecutors announced a joint partnership to prevent these crimes from happening here.
Along with world-renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee, they’ll soon be releasing a public service announcement, along with additional community outreach.
“Our message is simple. We are here to help everyone of all ethnicities and all backgrounds, but we can’t help if crimes are not reported,” said David Sundberg, special agent in charge of the FBI New Haven field office.
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In a news conference Thursday, they said their goal is for people who belong to these communities to feel more comfortable reporting crimes without fear of retaliation or in some cases deportation.
“All of us are saying to you right now, don’t be afraid. And if you come forward to report a crime, we will do everything we can to protect you,“ said Attorney General William Tong, who says it's been a really hard year to be an Asian American with more and more images of horrific and hateful incidents like attacks in neighboring New York City and in Atlanta.
These leaders hope this effort will also encourage neighbors to be better advocates for the AAPI community.
They want potential perpetrators to know that these actions will not be tolerated.
“There’s not place for hate in Connecticut and these crimes will not be tolerated against members of our community,” said Connecticut State Police public information officer Trooper Josue Dorelus.
Meanwhile, state civil and criminal prosecutors are pushing for legislative support of bills that they say could allow them to better prosecute these crimes,
“So that we can change these laws and put more tools in the tool bag of Connecticut’s prosecutors on the stateside in order to effectively prosecute these types of cases if an arrest is made,” said Kevin Lawlor, deputy chief state's attorney, about Senate Bill 6.
The PSA is expected to be released Monday in English, Mandarin and Cambodian.
It was filmed at the University of New Haven.
“The rise in violence towards the AAPI community is deeply concerning, so I’m glad that there are ongoing conversations and action steps at the state level,” said UNH assistant provost of diversity, equity, and inclusion Alvin Tran.
He says the university has been collaborating on events and classes to enable students to feel safer, become more educated, and empowered to make an impact.
“As an Asian American professor on campus, I’ve felt a little nervous about what’s been happening all around the country, we’re not too far from New York City where a lot of this violence has been documented and reported," said Tran.
Students we spoke to hopes this PSA helps spark change,
“Change can happen. I think it’s just going to take a lot of work. It can’t happen overnight,” said Agneris Recio, a senior from Florida.
“A person doesn’t have to look like you or sound like you or come from where you come. It’s just being respectful of that person’s background. Learn. Do research,” said Miranda Noad, a senior from West Haven.