Asian voters are rejecting the Democratic Party, angered by mounting violence targeting their communities and by other quality-of-life crises plaguing New York City.
The latest outrage came Saturday when a deranged homeless man shoved an Asian woman to her death in front of an oncoming subway train in Times Square, according to police.
“This is horrifying. It’s a horrible attack on yet another one of our citizens,” said Wai Wah Chin, charter president of the Chinese-American Citizen’s Alliance of Greater New York. “This has to stop.”
“We’re disgusted, really disgusted,” said Lester Chang, 60, of Manhattan, a former state Senate candidate and 24-year US Navy veteran.
The anger with the status quo is already being felt at the ballot box.
One Manhattan Chinatown election district flipped from blue to red in November, while GOP mayoral challenger Curtis Sliwa beat Democrat and citywide winner Eric Adams in 10 assembly districts with large Asian constituencies.
“Our party better start giving more of a s–t about #aapi (Asian-American Pacific Islander) voters and communities,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) tweeted on election night in response to Sliwa’s victories.
“The Asian community came out strongly in November and they came out and voted Republican,” said City Council newcomer Inna Vernikov (R-Brooklyn).
Anti-business mandates, festering homelessness issues and crumbling public education have fueled discontent. Asian parents were infuriated last year by the city’s decisions to phase out its Gifted and Talented program, a move they say will harm their high-achieving kids, and by proposals to eliminate the admission test to the city’s elite high schools. Asians won 53.7 percent of all seats to these top-performing schools in last year’s round of acceptances.
Soft-on-crime policies, including those authored by new Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, appear to be the top concern.
“People are afraid because we know [Bragg] is going to let violent criminals go free and Asians around the city will be the victims,” said Phil Wong, 55, a Queens businessman and political activist.
Yao Pan Ma, believed to be the city’s first hate-crime murder victim in four years, died on Dec. 31 from injuries sustained during an April attack in East Harlem. Hate crimes against Asians surged 368 percent in 2021 from the year before according to NYPD data.
“Politicians pay lip service to phrases like ‘Stop Asian Hate,’” said Ken Ma (no relation to the East Harlem victim), whose family owns eight optical shops in Chinatowns in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. “But their policies do little to help us. I fear for myself. I fear for my staff. I fear for my community.”
A report issued by NYPD last year showed that Asians are far more likely to be crime victims than suspects.
Asians were the victims of 7.8 percent of felony sex crimes in 2020; the suspects in only 4.8 percent of those crimes. They represented 15.3 percent of robbery victims, but only 2.3 percent of suspects; and 15.5 percent of grand larceny victims, but only 3 percent of suspects.
“Whoever provides safety will get our votes,” said Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership.
Ma, the optical shop owner, said he finds it “heartbreaking” when he looks at the trash-strewn streets and homeless encampments that tarnish Manhattan’s Chinatown, where his family opened its first location 40 years ago.
“Our leaders need to do better,” he said.
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