Hochul Signs New Hate Crime Laws

By Matis Glenn

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed two bills aimed at curbing hate crimes on Tuesday, following a weekend of hate crimes and threats against the New York Jewish community.

The new laws, passed in the state legislature’s last session, will require people convicted of hate crimes to undergo training in hate crime prevention and education, through third-party organizations representing the affected community, in addition to other penalties. It will also establish a statewide campaign for the “acceptance, inclusion, tolerance, and understanding of diversity,” according to the Governor’s office. The campaign, which will be developed and implemented by the Division of Human Rights, will work with community organizations, school districts, and houses of worship develop educational materials to be published on the internet, social media, and other platforms.

“Our hearts are broken,” Hochul said at Tuesday’s press conference. “New York belongs to the good, not those with hate in their hearts – we’re taking bold action to reclaim our city and state from the haters, bigots and white supremacists. Domestic-based violent extremism is the greatest threat to our homeland security, and that is why we continue to remain laser-focused on combatting hate and keeping New Yorkers safe.”

Two armed men who posted threats to the New York City Jewish community online were arrested this weekend in a joint effort by State Police, the NYPD, and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The Governor announced plans to hold a “Unity Summit,” to “bring together government officials and community leaders and combat hate, violent extremism, and discrimination.”

“As a Jewish refugee who came to this country fleeing antisemitic violence in my homeland,” State Senator Anna Kaplan, who drafted the statewide tolerance campaign said, “My heart aches over the explosion of hate and extremist fueled violence that we’ve seen in this country since the pandemic…this legislative package is an important first step to make clear that hate has no place in New York State.”

The Governor also encouraged community-based organizations to apply for $50 million in available funding from the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes program, to strengthen safety measures and protect against hate crimes, and extended the deadline for applications. The program provides non-profit community organizations, including museums, private schools and houses of worship, with money for safety items and security training. The initiative is being expanded to include measures to strengthen cybersecurity, Hochul said during Tuesday’s announcement. 

The deadline was previously January 31, 2023; organizations now have until February 28, to apply.  

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