D.A. Bragg Announces Plans to Expand Hate Crimes Unit

April 11, 2022

Renews Call to New York City Council and Mayor’s Office to Fund Expansion to Combat Rise in Hate Crimes
Victims of Hate Crimes Should Call the Office’s Hate Crimes Hotline at 212-335-3100

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr., today announced the Office’s plans to expand its Hate Crimes Unit to combat bias-driven crimes across the borough. Led by Unit Chief Hannah Yu, the newly expanded Unit would include two Deputy Chiefs, and multiple cross-designated Assistant D.A.s from each Trial Bureau who are specially trained to handle these complex investigations and prosecutions. D.A. Bragg appointed two executive members of his staff to oversee and support the Unit: Executive Assistant D.A. Joyce Smith, Chief of the Trial Division, who supervises the Unit’s casework, and Chanterelle Sung, Chief of Strategic Operations, who oversees strategy and operations. Together, leadership will increase the Unit’s proactive investigations and prosecutions, enhance its cultural and linguistic competencies; ensure internal staff and police officers receive specialized training; expand community engagement; strengthen victim services support and advocacy; and enhance partnerships with community-based organizations and other law enforcement agencies.
“New Yorkers of all backgrounds deserve to feel safe in Manhattan,” said District Attorney Bragg. “My Office’s expanded Hate Crimes Unit will not only investigate and prosecute hate crimes, but provide outreach and advocacy that helps victims heal and addresses root causes. Combatting hate crimes is a shared priority for my Office, the New York City Council, and the Mayor’s Office, and I’m hopeful we will receive the funding we need to combat the surge in hate crimes.”
Raymond Tsang, President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, and co-chair of the Manhattan D.A.’s Small Business Alliance, said: “Our community is thankful and hopeful to hear of DA Bragg’s intention to expand the Hate Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The rising tide of anti-Asian hate is intolerable and cannot be allowed to continue. We sincerely hope the expansion of the Hate Crimes Unit will ensure that all those who commit hate crimes will face the consequences. We hope that this expansion will give DA Bragg’s Office the resources to make our communities feel safe again. We hope this intention becomes a reality. This will not only benefit the AAPI community, but will benefit all communities.”
Cecilia Gentili, founder and principle trainer of TransEquity Consulting, and co-chair of the Manhattan D.A.’s TGNBNC Working Group, said: “Too often trans women, and particularly trans women of color, are the targets of brutal violence. It is critical that we acknowledge the problem and begin to collaboratively address the problem. DA Bragg’s approach to hate crime recognizes the importance of prevention efforts, the necessity of cultural humility in the work of criminal justice and the value of restorative justice practices as a means of healing individuals and communities.”
Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), said: “With hate on the rise in our community, it’s more urgent than ever that we take action to eradicate it wherever we find it. DA Bragg has been a champion of immigrant communities and I’m grateful for his leadership to ensure Manhattan remains a welcoming space for immigrants, diversity, and the families that call our community home.”
Robert Jackson, State Senator (first Muslim ever elected to New York State Senate), said: “With the recent increase in hateful rhetoric and acts of violence directed toward immigrants, toward the poor, and toward people of color generally, I’m pleased to see District Attorney Bragg taking this issue head-on and look forward to continuing to work with him and his office to let everyone know that hate has no place in Manhattan or anywhere.”
City Councilmember Erik Bottcher, said: “New York is stronger because of its diversity. We must embrace, celebrate, and protect that diversity and those who represent it. I am grateful to District Attorney Bragg for his leadership in ensuring that New York remains a safe haven for everyone, and look forward to working with him and his staff to ensure the welfare and safety of all.”
Will Ng, President, Asian American Bar Association of New York, said: “The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) has been fighting anti-Asian violence in New York for more than two years and established an Anti-Asian Violence Task Force. We have consistently maintained that full funding of hate crimes units in law enforcement is needed to give the NYPD and our DA’s offices the resources that are required to investigate and prosecute bias incidents and hate crimes. Unless hate crimes are prosecuted, members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in New York will not report attacks and assaults they have experienced, because they will see reporting as a futile act. AABANY also supports educational and counseling diversion programs, and calls for funding of such programs that will help victims heal and tackle the root causes of hate crimes.”
Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation, said: “For the past two years, the Asian American community has been reeling from attacks on our community. For the victims and the community-at-large, we are unsure of our rights and how law enforcement could help Asian Americans as we fear law enforcement for myriad reasons. Our shared goal is to build relations based on trust, with staff who can conduct outreach and community education in-language with cultural sensitivity on our rights and a plan to keep everyone safe.  We support funding to enable these shared goals in our community, as well as for all New Yorkers.” 
Rabbi Daniel Sherman, West Side Institutional Synagogue, said: “Unfortunately, our community is on edge with rising anti-Semitism on Manhattan’s streets. As such, we applaud this concrete and important step by the Manhattan D.A. in his vital role in stamping out all forms of hate from our beloved city. We congratulate Unit Chief Hannah Yu on this position and look forward to close collaboration with this bureau in achieving a safer Manhattan for all.”
David G. Greenfield, Chief Executive Officer of Met Council, said: “Met Council has long been on the forefront of battling anti-Semitism and all forms of hate. We commend District Attorney Bragg for his announcement today of the Office’s plans to expand its Hate Crimes Unit to combat bias-driven crimes across the borough. We look forward to working closely with him and his staff in the coming months and years to ensure that hate has no place in New York City.”
Sania Khan, Chair of Committee on Hate Crimes for Bragg Transition and President, Muslim Bar Association of New York, said: “I welcome District Attorney Bragg’s proposed changes to the Hate Crimes Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The fear of being a victim of a hate crime is an unfortunate reality for many communities, and a pain with which all impacted communities empathize. As Chair of the Committee on Hate Crimes for DA Bragg’s transition team, I saw firsthand how he and his team brought all voices to the table, especially those from impacted and underrepresented communities, to develop informed and effective policy through the lens of restorative justice. We appreciate the Office’s continued commitment to cultivate and empower community-based organizations, like the Muslim Bar Association of New York, to ensure that any approach is community-centered. We look forward to seeing these changes implemented.”
Lourdes Rosado, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said: “LatinoJustice PRLDEF supports District Attorney Bragg’s efforts to expand his office’s Hate Crimes Unit, to more adequately and proactively address cases of bias-driven violence against New Yorkers. Hate crimes are not new, but in the past year we have seen a disturbing rise in violent incidents where victims were clearly targeted for their race or ethnicity, such as the multiple attacks on people of Asian descent around the city, or those against Latino day laborers in Long Island. We’re gratified to see DA Bragg’s office commit to working with community-based groups to address the safety of the many people in our city who fear going about their daily lives because they cannot hide who they are or how they appear, and we urge the City Council and Mayor Adams to adequately fund these efforts.”
Amy Spitalnick, Executive Director of Integrity First for America, the civil rights nonprofit that recently won its lawsuit against the white supremacists responsible for the Charlottesville violence, said: “Record-level hate crimes represent a direct assault on our communities and our democracy. That requires real accountability and justice. But we can’t simply prosecute our way out of this crisis – we must also support victims and their communities, and get at the root causes of extremism and hate. DA Bragg’s commitment to expanding the Hate Crimes Unit represents an important step forward in this fight.”
Currently, the Unit’s staffing includes Chief Hannah Yu, a full-time investigative analyst, as well as two detective investigators, and is supported by a number of Assistant D.A.’s from the Trial Division who investigate and prosecute hate crimes cases. In March, D.A. Bragg testified before the New York City Council seeking $1.6 million to fund the expansion of the Unit to include:

  • Chief Hannah Yu
  • 2 full-time Deputy Chiefs
  • Multiple specially trained, cross-designated Assistant D.A.s from each Trial Bureau
  • 2 investigative analysts
  • 2 detective investigators
  • 2 victim services staff members – including an AAPI Counselor and LGBTQIA+ Victim Service Advocate – at least one of whom will be fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, or Korean
  • 2 Community Partnership Coordinators, at least one of whom will be fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, or Korean

The Office is actively recruiting candidates for the positions of Deputy Chief, AAPI Counselor, and LGBTQIA+ Victim Service Advocate. The other positions will be posted as soon as funding is secured.
The Unit is currently investigating and prosecuting 88 hate crime cases, including 27 anti-Asian hate crime cases, 25 anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime cases, 11 anti-Black hate crime cases, 10 anti-Semitic hate crime cases, and 6 anti-White hate crime cases, among others. The open hate crime cases include unprovoked, violent attacks against members of a certain protected identity; anti-Semitic graffiti and harassment; bias-motivated spitting incidents; and more.
With support from the Office’s Witness Aid Services Unit (“WASU”), Community Partnerships Unit, and more, the Unit continues to support victims and witnesses, raise awareness, and conduct outreach across the borough:

  • D.A. Bragg hosted a large meeting of AAPI community leaders in February, as the first of many, in order to strengthen the relationship between DANY and the AAPI community, understand the community’s needs and concerns, and build towards a partnership of mutual understanding and trust through increased engagement, transparency, and diversity of perspectives.
  • D.A. Bragg formed a Chinatown/AAPI focus group as part of the Office’s Manhattan Small Business Alliance to address that community’s concerns.
  • The Office attended a monthly Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association meeting with members of the NYPD and, among other topics, spoke about the work we are doing to combat hate crimes. 
  • The Unit continues to work closely with AAPI organizations, including the Asian American Bar Association’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, as well as other community groups such as the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Upper Manhattan Asian American Alliance, and the Asian American Federation.
  • D.A. Bragg hosted a meeting for LGBTQIA+ leaders and advocates where he spoke about his commitment to addressing hate crimes targeting LGBTQIA+ individuals.
  • The Office is working with Cecilia Gentili, the founder and principle trainer of TransEquity Consulting, to develop best practice guidelines for both legal and professional staff.
  • Ms. Gentili also co-chairs the Manhattan D.A.’s TGNBNC Working Group with Katie Doran, the Office’s Advisor for LGBTQ Issues. The group, which includes legal and professional staff, works collaboratively with leaders and advocates to recommend ways to improve the experiences of victims, witnesses, and all other visitors to the Office, in addition to exploring any policy or legislative remedies regarding privacy protections as it relates to gender identity and expression for transgender and non-binary victims and witnesses.
  • The Office attended a virtual Town Hall on Antisemitism hosted by Councilmember Julie Menin and answered questions about prosecuting hate crimes.
  • ADA Yu sat on a panel organized by Rabbi Lisa Gelber from Congregation Habonim and the NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes to discuss how the City is responding to hate crimes, especially those impacting AAPI and Jewish communities.
  • WASU supported victims and witnesses in 15 hate crimes cases in the past 6 months alone.
  • D.A. Bragg has spoken at four community forums about our hate crimes work and our efforts to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to this top priority. 
  • The Hate Crimes Unit and other members of the D.A.’s Office have hosted or participated in 25 speaking engagements and presentations relating to hate crimes, including with schools, other City agencies and Community Based Organizations and Advocates.
  • This Spring, the Unit will conduct specialized hate crimes trainings for the NYPD.
  • The Office continues to work with law enforcement partners, including meeting with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, to collaborate to combat hate crimes.