By Gina Martinez
City Council members gathered on the steps of City Hall last week calling for a $25 million security grant to combat the rise in hate crimes.
Members of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, Council members, city leaders and non-profit institutions asked the city to fund a $25 million security grant to protect Jewish, Muslim and other community institutions. This comes after the NYPD announced hate crimes have gone up 55 percent from last year, the increase is being driven by a 94 percent increase in anti- Semitic hate crimes. While the rise in hate crimes has been a national trend since the election of President Donald Trump, New York City has outpaced the national rise despite the 2.8 percent drop in overall crime. Hate crimes in New York City have included bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and graffiti.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) joined Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), who led the call for the program. According to the councilmen, federal government and New York State both fund programs designed to improve safety and security at schools and day care centers at risk of being targeted in hate crime attacks. The Council members called for the creation of a companion city-funded security grant program to assist community centers and cultural institutions that are considered at risk of being targeted because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. These funds would pay for security upgrades at the institutions, including equipment and additional staffing.
The existing federal and state programs focuses mainly on school security, but the coalition of city leaders and nonprofits called for city funding that would focus on community centers, cultural institutions, and advocacy organizations. The program would be open to institutions that face a higher risk of being targeted in hate crimes.
“I am proud today to stand with my colleagues in the City Council to call on the city to make this crucial investment in a security grant program that will help protect at-risk locations,” Lancman said. “In the face of rising anti-Semitism and hate crimes in New York City, we must take action to best ensure the security of at-risk NYC community centers and cultural institutions. The security grant program will be an essential resource to keep New Yorkers safe.”
Council member Mark Levine (D- Manhattan), chair of the Jewish Caucus, said institutions being targeted for hate crimes need additional funds for security.
“We are here today to respond to an unprecedented rise in hate crimes across New York City,” he said. “Though there are state and federal programs to enhance security for at-risk schools and day-care centers, our city’s community centers and cultural institutions, which have been repeatedly targeted in recent months, are left with nowhere to turn for help in meeting their security needs. When hate crimes and threats occur, they are not just an attack on innocent victims, but on the values we share as New Yorkers.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart