Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced new actions to combat hate crimes and anti-Semitism across New York State. The measures include a $25 million grant program to boost safety and security at New York’s schools and day care centers at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. The grant program will provide funding for additional security training needs, cameras and state-of-the-art technology, door-hardening, improved lighting and other related security upgrades. The Governor made the announcement on February 23 following a roundtable with over 50 religious leaders from across the state, including members representing the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.
At the Governor’s direction, the state will also expand its toll-free hotline to include text message capability to report incidents of bias and discrimination. A $5,000 reward is also being made available for any information leading to an arrest and conviction for a hate crime.
“New York must always be the beacon of tolerance and hope for all, and with the recent explosion of anti-Semitism and hate crimes, it is more important than ever before that we do everything in our power to ensure the safety and equal treatment of all New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “Any acts of bias or discrimination will be met with the full force of the law. New York is and always has been a place that celebrates diversity and religious tolerance, and we say to all New Yorkers who feel unsafe – we will always protect you.”
The Jewish community has been increasingly targeted by bomb threats and hate crimes in recent months. According to the JCC Association of North America, there have been 69 incidents of bias and discrimination at 54 JCCs in 27 states since January 2017.On February 22, there was a bomb threat targeting the Anti-Defamation League’s national headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. In addition, across New York State, there was a 31 percent increase in reported hate crimes targeting Muslims in 2016 across New York State compared to 2015 and an 18 percent increase in reported hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
To combat the surge of incidents of hate and intolerance, the state is launching a $25 million grant program to boost safety and security at New York’s schools and day care centers at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. The grant program will provide funding for additional security training needs, cameras and state-of-the-art technology, door-hardening, improved lighting and other related security upgrades. The new grant program will be administered by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
In November 2016, Governor Cuomo launched a toll-free hotline to report incidents of bias or discrimination. To date, the hotline has received more than 3,175 calls. Building on its success, New York will expand the Division of Human Rights (DHR) statewide hotline to include text messaging capability.
Governor Cuomo will launch the Hate Crimes Text Line to enable any New Yorker to easily report incidents in their community. Those who have experienced or witnessed bias or discrimination are encouraged to text “HATE” to 81336 with details of the incident, including photo or video documentation. Texts will be monitored by the State Police, who will handle any potential criminal matters. Additionally, cases of discrimination that are covered by the New York State Human Rights Law may be further investigated by DHR. In case of emergency or if you are a victim of a crime, always dial 911. A $5,000 reward is also being made available for any information leading to an arrest and conviction for a hate crime.
The launch of the Hate Crimes Text Line is designed to make it as easy as possible to report incidents across the state and gather critical information to inform statewide response efforts. With aggregate data on the frequency and location of incidents, officials can better map activity, target response efforts and deploy resources effectively.
“The arrest of a suspect in the recent wave of threats against Jewish Community Centers sends a clear message that anyone who threatens New Yorkers with violence will be brought to justice.
“The abhorrent and cowardly threats against Jewish Community Centers are an assault on the values of all New Yorkers. But they have also shone a bright light on how New Yorkers come together as one to stand up against those who seek to divide us.
“During my recent visit to Israel, members of the New York State Police and my public safety team joined me for a meeting with Israeli authorities to discuss these disturbing threats, and I am particularly grateful for their support. We will continue to work with our partners and remain vigilant in our efforts to investigate hate crimes and keep New Yorkers safe.”