Hansi Lo Wang

Hansi Lo Wang is a National Desk reporter based at NPR's New York Bureau. He covers issues and events in the Northeast.

He previously reported on race, ethnicity and culture for NPR's Code Switch team. Since joining NPR in 2010 as a Kroc Fellow, he's contributed to NPR's breaking news coverage of the 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla., the trial of George Zimmerman in Florida and the Washington Navy Yard shooting. He has also reported for Seattle public radio station KUOW and worked behind the scenes of NPR's Weekend Edition as a production assistant.

In 2014, he won the National Journalism Award for General Excellence in Radio from the Asian American Journalists Association for his profile of a white member of a Boston Chinatown gang. He was also a finalist for a Salute to Excellence National Media Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

A Philadelphia native, Wang speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese dialects of Chinese. As a student at Swarthmore College, he hosted, produced, and reported for a weekly podcast on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The lines were stark outside the courthouse.

A bustling street in downtown Brooklyn, N.Y., separated two groups. Each was fenced in by stone-faced police officers and steel barricades: an Asian-American community divided by Tuesday's sentencing of 28-year-old Peter Liang, the son of Chinese immigrants.

The next presidential primary battle has arrived in a state with one of the country's largest Asian populations.

Whether or not you're a citizen in New York state, you have a right to attend a public high school and earn a diploma until you're 21. That was Pawsansoe Bree's plan after she left a refugee camp in Thailand when she was almost 19.

On Thursday nights near the Brooklyn, N.Y., waterfront, an old firehouse turns into a schoolhouse, where the drills are in Chinese.

The students are some of New York's bravest. About a dozen firefighters, EMTs and paramedics are taking the first Mandarin classes funded by the New York City Fire Department Foundation. It's the start of a voluntary program that organizers hope to expand into other Chinese dialects and Asian languages in the future. For now, these first responders spend two hours a week learning Mandarin from Lily Cheung.

Immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally are often reluctant to report crimes.

That's why Congress created what's known as the "U visa" program. It gives legal status to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other serious crimes — if they help law enforcement with criminal investigations.

Around the country Monday, hundreds of airport workers protested in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

From Newark, N.J., to Washington, D.C., to Chicago and Miami workers called for a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour.

In Newark, workers carried picket signs of Martin Luther King through the airport.

"If Dr. King were alive today, he would be standing alongside of us," said Kevin Brown, New Jersey's state director of the local service employees union, 32BJ SEIU.

Authorities are still trying to determine how the San Bernardino shooters got the two assault-style rifles they used in the attack.

The guns were registered to Enrique Marquez, long-time friend of shooter Syed Farook. But it's not clear exactly how those guns wound up in the shooters' hands.

Buying guns from licensed dealers for someone else is illegal. "Straw purchasers" break the law by fraudulently filling out a form that says they're the actual buyer, but they're actually buying the gun for another person — someone who might be avoiding a background check.

Edit note: Since this story was first published, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty of taking nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks. We have updated the story to reflect this change.

Las Vegas has The Mob Museum. Washington, D.C., has the International Spy Museum. And if a concerned citizen has his way, there will be a Museum of Political Corruption in Albany, N.Y.

A street drug made of various chemicals sprayed on tea leaves, grass clippings and other plant material continues to send thousands of people suffering from psychotic episodes and seizures to emergency rooms around the country.

In 2015, calls to poison control regarding the drug already have almost doubled, compared to last year's total, and health professionals and lawmakers are struggling to keep up with the problem.

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They're remembered as the sparks for the modern gay-rights movement, but after almost half a century, it's hard to say exactly what happened during the 1969 Stonewall riots. And now Stonewall, a new film interpretation of this history, is fielding backlash even before its Friday opening.

On Sunday mornings, the church doors at Our Lady Queen of Angels are locked up tight. Cobwebs frame the rust red doorways. But just across this cul-de-sac, in the corner of a park in New York City's East Harlem neighborhood, the weekly Mass goes on.

"This is our church. We're surrounded by trees, by the birds, the sky and very good-natured people. So no one can drag us out of here," says Margarita Barada, 91, sitting on a bench across from the closed church. She and a half-dozen faithful now meet without a priest.

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Editor's Note: This report contains a racial slur.

A new play reveals some little-known history about the land that became New York City's Central Park: People used to live there.

Beginning in 1825, about 300 people — mainly free African-Americans — lived in a village that spanned a portion of the park's 843 acres in Manhattan, between 82nd and 89th streets, east of Central Park West. It was called Seneca Village.

After sitting down with President Obama, addressing Congress and speaking at the United Nations, Pope Francis will meet with some unique soccer players in New York City in September.

They're migrant teenagers in a youth soccer program co-sponsored by New York's Catholic Charities.

Eight months after homelessness hit a record in New York City, you can still see the need of the city's most vulnerable in Tompkins Square Park.

"Good morning! Two pieces?" asks Mario Cornejo, as he places slices of frosted banana bread on paper towels for a long line of hungry people.

"It used to be just a small pot before," explains Cornejo, a volunteer with a New York group called Food for Life since 2008. "Now it's a big pot and bigger salad containers, more trays of cake."

They were under watch by the FBI and the New York Police Department. And by the early 1970s, the Young Lords emerged as one of the country's most prominent radical groups led by Latino activists.

Inspired by the Black Panthers, a band of young Puerto Ricans wanted to form a Latino counterpart to the black nationalist group. In fact, one of the founding Young Lords in New York City almost started a group called the "Brown Tigers."

There aren't a lot of obscure government board meetings that warrant a watch party, let alone one with a marching band.

But that's how fast-food restaurant workers and their supporters celebrated Wednesday on a blocked-off street in Manhattan, as they watched a state panel recommend a $6.25 increase in their hourly wage, to $15.

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My mother's family fled communism twice.

The first time was from China. Then, after Saigon fell in 1975, they left Vietnam.

My mother, Kuo Nam Lo, was 24 when she spent her first few months in the U.S. at a refugee camp at a military base along a stretch of the Appalachian Mountains in central Pennsylvania.

"I've always wanted to come back here," my mother told me in Cantonese on a recent drive through Fort Indiantown Gap. "Son, you've made my dream come true."

Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in May 2012.

If there's one grilling tip to remember this Memorial Day weekend, it should be this: Flame is bad.

"Flame does nasty things to food," food historian and science guy Alton Brown tells NPR's Scott Simon.

Of all the police officers involved in the recent deaths of unarmed men which have drawn national attention, only one is Asian-American – New York City Police Officer Peter Liang, the son of Chinese immigrants.

An obscure but riveting genre of theater is being revived in New York City.

They're called "anti-lynching plays." Most were written by black playwrights during the early 1900s to show how lynchings devastated African-American families.

There's no historical marker outside Jacob Lawrence's childhood home in New York City's Harlem neighborhood.

But Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has an idea of what it might say: "Here lived one of the 20th century's most influential visual artists, a man named Jacob Lawrence, who was a child of southern migrants."

Around 4 million unauthorized immigrants are stuck in legal limbo more than two weeks after a federal judge in Texas suspended President Obama's move to temporarily protect them from deportation.

Getting ready for the Lunar New Year once meant buying a new set of clothes for many families of Korean ancestry.

For centuries, the costume known as hanbok – a two-piece outfit traditionally made of embroidered cotton or silk worn by men and women – has played a central role in the new year's wardrobe.

A federal judge in South Texas said President Obama had overstepped his authority with his executive actions on immigration. Now, the new court ruling has left some unauthorized immigrants in legal limbo and slowed down months of preparation by immigration attorneys.

There are some cities you can identify with just an accent, including New York.

But linguists say that those who speak in the classic New York tongue are part of a dying breed.

To find them, filmmaker Heather Quinlan went accent hunting around the city, holding a sign that reads, "Do you have a New York accent? Then talk to me." She directed If These Knishes Could Talk: The Story of the New York Accent, a documentary about the decline of many of New York's well-known accents.

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