By Emily Drooby
Keeping a watchful eye in Flushing, Queens — it’s how Teresa Ting fights xenophobia. It’s a fight she took on out of love.
“I fear for my mom’s safety, I fear for my father’s safety,” the Flushing native said. “I tell her not to take the subway by herself.”
Teresa’s fear is not surprising. In New York City, hate crimes against Asian people are on the rise. In 2019, the NYPD recorded three anti-Asian hate crimes. In 2020, that number spiked to 28 hate crimes committed against Asian people. That includes crimes that come from a new category specifically for attacks motivated by the coronavirus.
As of March 28, 2021, they have had 33.
Teresa says a lot of people also don’t report these crimes.
She was particularly rattled by an attack on an elderly Asian woman back in February.
“It’s just really sad that it’s come to a time and place like this.” she told Currents News, “and this is why we have to do something proactive.”
That’s why she started Main Street Patrol, a group of volunteers who patrol in Flushing, Queens.
Since it started, it’s grown to 60 volunteers. They act as the eyes and ears of the community, filling a gap Teresa noticed while watching video of attacks: bystanders not knowing how to safely interact.
“We just focus on using these verbal de-escalation methods rather than physical intervention. I feel like a lot of people are not aware of these methods, you know? They’re like, ‘What do I do? I’m here, I don’t want to get hurt,’” she explained.
Group members have had to intervene a few times already.
They use ihollarback.org to train their volunteers. It’s a free resource available online to help bystanders learn how to safely intervene if they ever see a hate crime taking place. Main Street Patrol uses the group’s “Five D’s Method”: distract, delegate, document, delay and direct.
“Distract” is trying to draw attention away from the target. “Delegate” means getting help from an authority figure. “Document” means to get proof, ideally filming it. “Delay” means checking back in with a person who was harassed after the incident concludes. The last is “direct,” which is speaking up, if and when it seems safe.
Teresa is hoping in the future the group will continue to grow so they can expand from just weekends. She’s also hoping to teach the public these de-escalation methods.
They’re people helping people, creating a safe community for everyone.