New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Tuesday signed into law two bills aimed at preventing hate crimes. The signings come in the wake of a Saturday shooting at a Colorado LGBTQ nightclub and an averted terror attack targeting Jews in New York City.
At the signing ceremony in New York City, Hochul spoke at length about the deadly impact of hateful rhetoric in politics. “Many of these attacks start out as seeds of hatred planted on social media,” Hochul said. “We’ve seen it over and over and over again. And this extremism has real life consequences.”
New York City police arrested two men at Penn Station on Saturday in connection with an alleged threat to the Jewish community after it was discovered on Twitter. Officers recovered a semi-automatic firearm, a ghost gun, a 30-round magazine, an eight-inch-long military style knife and a Nazi armband. The suspects were charged with making a terroristic threat and the criminal possession of a weapon and firearm.
On Sunday, Hochul announced that the state will ramp up monitoring and increase support for communities that are potential targets of hate crimes. At Tuesday’s event, Hochul signed legislation that requires individuals convicted of hate crimes to undergo mandatory training designed to deter such crimes. She also signed a bill that passed the New York State Senate in March which establishes a statewide campaign focused on inclusion and tolerance.
Hochul also noted the state’s investment of $83 million in grants to over 600 nonprofit organizations in recent years, funds used to boost security for Jewish and other religious and ethnic institutions. She said the state has set aside $50 million to fund an additional 1,000 projects.
Since taking office last August, Hochul announced more than $90 million for a program called “Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes” and launched an online reporting system for bias crimes. In her first budget, earlier this year, Hochul tweaked the state’s controversial bail reform law to include harsher measures for those convicted of hate crimes, saying it was a direct response to a spike in violent antisemitic attacks. The bail reform law’s passage in 2019 worried some in the Jewish community who feared it would embolden antisemites, and came under renewed scrutiny during the recent competitive gubernatorial race.
The New York City Police Department recently reported a rise in anti-Jewish crimes this year with a total 617 incidents, including 20 reported in October. Overall hate crime numbers were also up. According to an Anti-Defamation League survey, there were 416 reported incidents of antisemitism in New York state last year, the most in the nation.
“I’m going to leave it to sociologists to figure out exactly when the filters came off and these forces of evil were unleashed,” Hochul said. “Whether it was the degradation of our political discourse that began in 2016, or was it the pressure cooker of the pandemic that has exploded, the lid blown off on what was normal, acceptable behavior.”
“But here we are” she added. “We have the power as individuals, as a government, as a society to pull back and say, no more.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a press conference on Monday that the city will increase security in the weeks leading up to the Hanukkah season, pointing to the deadly stabbing attack in Monsey, New York, on the last day of Hanukkah in 2019.
“Over 77 years ago, after allied soldiers liberated Auschwitz and exposed the full extent of the horrors of the Holocaust, hate is on the rise in America, Adams said. “As the mayor of the largest Jewish community in the United States, it is my sacred duty to protect Jewish New Yorkers and this entire community from antisemitism and bigotry.”
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