Point of View: Flushing immigrants must take safety precautions

By George H. Tsai

Have serious crimes declined in this part of the city? The answer is negative in the borough’s Asian community.

Homicide, robbery and rape are major concerns among Asian immigrants in Queens, particularly in Flushing.

Two weeks ago, at least two young rascals who ordered Chinese food reportedly took the life of a delivery man in Jamaica. The motive? Money.

The two are accused of allegedly beating their victim, Huang Chen, 18, with baseball bats after taking $49 from him. While some news reports said the teens may have robbed Chen for money to buy sneakers, Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said that information was false, the TimesLedger Newspapers reported Feb. 19.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the victim begged for mercy but his plea was ignored. This heinous crime has sparked outcries in Queens’ Chinese community, according to local Chinese-language newspapers.

Borough President Helen Marshall, Liu and other local politicians and community leaders condemned the barbarian acts, and police are seeking another teen in connection with the crime. They were also unanimous in calling for severe punishment for these heartless perpetrators.

We cannot blink at the seriousness of this problem. We must get tough on scoundrels who trick food delivery men into isolated areas and rob or attack them.

I am sure there will be copycats, and more innocent people could lose their lives if these criminals get away with light punishment. Law enforcement authorities ought to adopt a zero-tolerance policy to deter people from committing such crimes.

Meanwhile, a couple of Asian women recently were robbed and raped at their homes in Flushing and Bayside, according to Ming Pao, a Chinese-language daily. There were no reports about these crimes in the mainstream media. Why? Asian women are reserved by nature.

Some of the victims consider rape a disgrace and therefore remain tight-lipped about the crime. These are perhaps the factors motivating criminals to prey on them.

But females are not the only targets. More recently, two young Asian men alleged that they were robbed at gunpoint by two males who took an undetermined amount of cash about 8 p.m. at Union Street and 34th Street in Flushing. Stunned and slightly hurt, the two victims reported the incident to police.

It’s shocking that criminals would stalk their victims in that section, which is a relatively safe residential and commercial area in Flushing.

Criminals know that Asians, particularly the new arrivals, are used to carrying cash because they do not yet have bank accounts. To open a bank account requires certain legal documents providing the bank with a mailing address. So they have only two choices — carry the money or leave it in their shoeboxes at home.

Ironically, traditionalists and older people trust their shoeboxes more than the safe boxes in the bank. This practice often invites robbers and burglars, who break into their houses to get cash or valuables. I hope those victims will change their habits as time goes by, or they may have to pay the piper.

There are at least two ways to help prevent these dreadful and despicable incidents.

First, new immigrants, especially single women, must take precautions to guard their homes and change their lifestyles. That means avoiding walking home alone at night and immediately reporting to police what happened to them or their neighbors to prevent the criminals from striking again.

Second, law enforcement authorities should beef up patrols in crime-prone areas.

Serious crimes are byproducts of fast-growing areas. Queens is perhaps the state’s fastest-growing county with immigrants speaking more than 120 languages. As a resident, I take great pride in its growth and hope the borough and the city will pay more attention to the new immigrants’ welfare. They are hard-working people who have contributed a great deal to the borough’s prosperity.

Last fall, several Asian stores in downtown Flushing were entered through rooftops. During the same period, a couple of criminals held up the Whitestone home of an Asian restaurant owner in broad daylight.

Serious crimes in the city have gone down year after year, reports show. City officials say the Big Apple is the safest among all the large cities in the nation. But the numbers may not reflect the whole story, as many immigrants do not report to police what happened to them because of their status and cultural background.

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