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New York Officials Denounce Rash Of Hate Crimes

Pat Bradley/WAMC

New York’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, stood with civil rights advocates Thursday, denouncing a rash of alleged hate crimes and bias-related incidents that have occurred since the election of Donald Trump.

“This year’s presidential election has laid bare some deep divisions in our nation. The depth of those divisions and the ugliness of the rhetoric during the campaign has surprised and even frightened many New Yorkers. And sadly, in recent days, we have seen a surge in bias attacks and hate crimes across the nation, including some right here in New York,” said Schneiderman.

The Attorney General noted that New York City has seen a 31 percent increase in bias-related crime over the last year, primarily directed toward Muslims and Jews.

Schneiderman reassured New Yorkers that his office has their backs. His office has sent a bulletin to law enforcement offices across the state outlining New York’s hate crime law and stressing the need for law enforcement to identify possible hate crimes, as well as guidance in civil rights law.

“We stand ready to commit whatever resources we can to ensure equality as we prepare for a possible uptick in hate crimes or other violations of New Yorkers’ civil rights,” said Schneiderman.

In the days after the presidential election, Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked those affected by hate crimes to call a state hotline to report incidents.

On Long Island, fliers supporting the Ku Klux Klan were found distributed on parked cars. An investigation was launched into graffiti that included a swastika and the word “Trump” inside a residence hall at SUNY Geneseo. In Allegany County, a softball dugout was defaced with a swastika and the words “Make America White Again,” referencing the “Make America Great Again” slogan used by president-elect Donald Trump. In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, Trump said he was “saddened” by reports of violence being committed by some of his supporters and told those committing acts to “Stop it.”

Speaking to reporters in Rochester, Cuomo said his office takes any hateful rhetoric or slogans seriously.

“We want to make a very clear statement in this state: that there is no place for racism. There is no place for hate. There is no place for swastikas. There is no place for racially inflammatory or divisive rhetoric or acts,” said Cuomo.

Swastikas were also found spray painted on pavement in Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs.

In response, the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee has launched an effort where if a city resident discovers hateful graffiti on their property, the committee will come out with wire brushes and neutral paint to remove it.

Committee member Otis Maxwell also called on the Saratoga Springs City Council to take a public statement against hateful graffiti.

“This symbol of hate is intended to frighten and silence people. For us it will have an opposite effect. I am speaking tonight to give voice to our committee and everyone in our community who is outraged to find this ugly symbol in the heart of our city,” said Maxwell.

As to covering offensive symbols, Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco quipped, “We’ll take all the help we can get.”

Marches organized by those on the left against bigotry and racism were scheduled to continue across the region in the coming days.

More information: 

New York State Division of Human Rights hotline: (888) 392-3644



Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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