Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced more than $51 million in grants to strengthen safety and security measures at nonprofit, community-based organizations at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission. This funding is the largest amount ever available through the State’s Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grants, and for the first time, could be used to enhance an organization’s cybersecurity. In addition to announcing the record level of funding, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.2060-A/A.3694-A) that will strengthen investigation and reporting requirements for hate crimes incidents occurring on college campuses.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Hello, my friends. Hi everyone. It’s so wonderful to see so many people gathered here today for an occasion I wish we did not have to gather for, which is coming to this incredible museum, a place that forces us to reckon with the past and to talk about where we’re going in the future. And I still envision a future where hate crimes are no longer part of society. But until that day, we must continue to rise up and find every avenue possible to defeat the haters and to let them know that we are united against them.
That is why we are here back at this museum. I toured here just last summer, one of our previous events, this is my third or fourth time here as Governor. And if you walk down the halls and see the images of people no longer with us, lives cut short too soon, it’s a visible reminder of how hate is like a seed. If it’s planted, it can grow and grow and grow. And we’re not talking about flowers. We’re talking about weeds – weeds that can ultimately strangle society. And that’s what has happened decades ago. But I feel that same sense today, and that is why we act today with a sense of urgency.
I will tell you this. There are many elected officials here. I know many of them are recognized, but I’m so grateful that they are united in solidarity with our efforts to do what we can legislatively, program wise, executive action wise, as well as making sure we’re funding the organizations that all too often are subjected – their members, their constituencies – are subjected to acts of hate and xenophobia and homophobia, and anti-semitism, racism, all those isms that are out there.
But there are organizers here in this room and across this state, we’ll be talking about how we can help lift them up – help give them the resources that they need as well to carry on the work that they’re doing to help people live a healthy life. And I want to thank, first of all, sponsor of the bill we’re going to be signing here today.
I thank Dan Rosenthal for his many years of service and his willingness to find any way he can to deal with the problems of today, and team up in the legislature and get bills passed through the Assembly -find a partner in the Senate. He found Senator Stavisky, and they can talk about how the journey literally started just over a year ago – less than a year ago – to where we are here today. But I’ll let them speak in their own voices, but let’s give them a round of applause for their leadership on these issues.
Jack Kliger, the CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. I thank you for, again, opening your doors to us. Jack, it’s been extraordinary. I’ve, again, been here so many times, I feel at home here, and I thank you for just keeping the keeper of the flame, the flame that we want to make sure continues to be nurtured and grow even higher in this venue, but as it spreads out through communities. So thank you for all you do and everyone who’s on the Board of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
And I know my friend Patti Kenner is here as well, who has been – Patti, who has been talking about this every time we’re together, which is often. She talks about some other innovation, some other collection, some other exhibits, some other lecture that is going on here. So I thank people like Patti and others who are making contributions every single day.
Also, Toby Levy is here, a Holocaust survivor. Toby, let’s recognize Toby. She is here as a visible reminder of a life that endured, but a life that contained memories and the vow to never forget. And as I was walking down the hall coming in here this morning, one of the photographs had a message under it. It said, “Never forget is just a slogan unless you act upon that, unless you do something about that.” And so, Toby, thank you for sharing your life story with all of us many times and for being here today.
And last summer when I was here, we toured the just opened “What Hate Can Do” exhibit. I hope you’ve all seen this, right? I don’t have to describe this to you. But if you need just to revisit, go once again. Go once again, open up your hearts and your minds to the stories of the people who had to endure one of the most horrific, manmade experiences that we could ever describe. It moved me deeply. It still does to this day, and I remember seeing the Torah on display – an artifact that was smuggled from Europe by Jews who just wanted to hang on to some piece of their story, their history.
And it just reminded me of the resilience – that willingness to go to extremes and to take risks, all in the effort to preserve a religion, a story, a heritage. And people came to New York during that time, and they still continue to come to New York because New York has always, always symbolized that beacon – a beacon of hope and acceptance and tolerance. And we want to make sure that that continues to be the story associated with New York – New York State.
So when I feel that there’s a diminution of that reputation by people who are living among us, who are using hate as a vehicle to espouse whatever source of evil lies within them, and to have it permeate platforms like social media where they can get a following where there never would’ve been one in the past. Imagine a world where social media was available during Hitler’s time on this earth.
I’ve spoken to many Holocaust survivors, and they see the same winds starting to swirl around that they knew that their parents and grandparents, and they saw as children were happening at that time. So the lessons are there in the past, but the warning signs are here in the present, and we must heed those warning signs.
I want to make sure that we continue to find ways to work together, but it breaks my heart to know that the number of anti-semitic acts, hate crimes have more than doubled, more than doubled, if that’s possible. An average of one of these attacks every 33 hours. Barely a day goes by when someone else is not subjected to this – the fear, the anxiety, the worry about your children, your elderly parents walking the streets. Last year, the statewide number of anti-semitic acts hit numbers we’ve not seen in decades. And I’m not proud to say it was the highest number in the nation. This is New York. We’re better than that. We are better than that.
And so across the state, we have to recognize the fact that no minority group has been spared the scourge of all this violence. You know, since the pandemic – look what was happening to members of the AAPI community, you know, it was dubbed the China Flu. Got people so riled up and so angry that Asian Americans were targeted on the streets and hurt on our subways and spit at and screamed at. They did nothing wrong, and yet the fear started to envelop them. Fear can be paralyzing. Everyone deserves to live with a free heart, not paralyzed by a fear that someone else out there is going to cause them harm. Lives were stolen. Security in our homes, in our places of worship, in our community centers.
Let’s think about what’s happening to the LGBTQIA+ community here in the state that is the birthplace of the Gay Rights Movement – so proud of that. Trans New Yorkers walking our streets again with fear because of others. And targeting Black communities. Spent some time in Buffalo, my hometown, and saw the Tops Grocery Store, which has been rebuilt, but it was just over a year ago, a white supremacist getting his mind fed with such evil thoughts and trying to emulate the manifestos that he found way too easily on social media, in my opinion, about a massacre in New Zealand, and he decided to replicate the same and targeted what he determined was the closest Black community from his home. Buffalo was three hours and 15 minutes. The Bronx would’ve been three hours and 40 minutes. He just based it on that, closest one. And maybe there’s something to be said about that.
It says to me he had no experience of living in a community that represents our state. But I diverge, but only because this weighs heavily on me as the Governor of this state that I love so much, that we all love so much. But if we stand here today, recommitted to two words – no more, no more. No more hate in our state and stand up and back it up with 20 million New Yorkers, you add up all the people that have been targeted because of their religion, who they love, the country they come from, color of their skin, you add up everybody, we far outweigh the narrow group of haters that are causing such havoc. They don’t just want to intimidate us, scare us, they want to silence us.
They don’t like the way the world is changing around them, and it is that very diversity that threatens some that makes us such a fascinating place, the place that people want to be. Look at the employers who are now wanting to come to New York because they want a diverse workforce – something that has been too hard fought for so long. Well, you can tell I don’t like standing on the sidelines. I don’t mind jumping in the arena of any good fight, and this is one of them. So, I’m committed to taking action. And one of them is to support those who’ve already stood up and devoted their lives and their careers and their passions to eradicating hate and standing up for organizations and marginalized people.
So today, I’m here to announce over $51 million, the most ever in our state’s history dedicated to eradicating hate to organizations, to over a thousand organizations starting today to help them have the resources they need to help these nonprofits do their job. $51 million. Thank you. These security grants will be helping religious institutions, community centers, cultural centers, places that we know are targets by their very virtue of their existence. We know where they are, and I want everyone who comes and gathers, whether it’s in a synagogue, yeshiva, a school, or a mosque, a church, organizations down in Chinatown, Flushing, I want people to know when you gather there, you’re going to be okay. That when you send your kids to a program, a summer camp there, they’re going to be okay. When your parents go to a senior program and play ping pong down in the Lower East Side that I’ve played many times down there, they’re going to be okay.
That’s what people deserve. It’s a basic human right, and to me it’s a right of being a New Yorker. So, this money starting today, this historic investment is the most ever awarded with our securing communities grant funds. And these individuals will be doing the work that I need done, helping at risk organizations, helping people with cybersecurity improvements, not just cameras, but also technology, monitoring technology, training staff, bringing on more staff. It’s part of our enduring commitment to eliminate this hateful violence.
We also are continuing to invest millions in our Hate and Bias Prevention Unit. And I’ve asked my Lieutenant Governor, Antonio Delgado, to go around the State and he’s been convening listening forums and bringing back information in real time to us so we can formulate what we’re doing here. He’s doing an incredible job and I’m grateful that he has dedicated his time to this as well.
We also had to change our public safety laws, make sure that perpetrators of hate crimes are fully held to account and that judges have the discretion they need to lock them up if a crime has been committed against another person. That’s was so important.
And now let’s talk about addressing hate in our educational system. We have a path, a path to change the hearts and minds of people, even at a young age. That’s what education is all about. A strong pillar of the Jewish identity is valuing education. But education has great potential, but educational institutions can also be places where people learn to hate. And that’s what we have to stop. We have to stop that. We gathered last year to talk about the bill we signed to ensure, not just say you should do this, but that ensuring all of our schools are teaching Holocaust education as the law requires. Because we have to eliminate the ignorance that breeds this bias.
But there’s always more work to be done. And we’re going to be monitoring this. I stood here last year and said, “We’re going to be watching this, monitoring this.” But let’s talk about higher education as well. We’ve seen a lot there lately, the statistics are deeply, deeply troubling of the incidents of hate crimes and bias crimes that are happening on college campuses, which in an ideal world, are the places where people from different backgrounds gather, you share ideas, it’s education. I mean, you’re listening and absorbing views of others and processing that and challenging that against your own upbringing and maybe coming out with a different point of view about people and their history and creating a sense of empathy, which is hard to teach, but that’s what changes everything. When you understand the shoes that someone else has walked in, or their parents did, or their grandparents, it gives you a different understanding of where they are.
That’s what’s supposed to be happening on our college campuses, and I still have an optimistic view that we can ensure that that is what is happening. But we’ve seen too many times where people are targeted because of their identity, even on our college campuses. And so, we had two leaders step up. I identified them at the front-end, Assemblymember Dan Rosenthal, Senator Toby Stavisky said, “We can do better.”
And today, I am so proud to be signing a piece of legislation authored by them to strengthen our hate crime reporting and investigations on college campuses. Let’s start saying, “These are places where people should have freedom.” And I support and thank the higher educational institutions that embrace this.
Now, one could say that sharing information and statistics about hate crimes on campus could be an examination that they don’t want to do because it may put a black eye on their institution. We had the same experience and we talked about, and I worked on this for years, sexual assault on college campuses. If you identify campuses that had a high number of assaults, that would be difficult in marketing for them. The opposite was true, and I said the opposite would be true. When you are an institution that recognizes that all is not perfect, that you’re willing to call it out, whether it is sexual assault or whether it’s bias crimes or hate crimes, that should say to prospective students and their parents, “That’s where I want to go. This is an institution that acknowledges this exists and is willing to do something about it.” That’s the mindset we have to change. And that’s what this legislation I believe will do.
And I want every single college to have to adopt and implement these programs so every single student, when they leave the security of their home, feels just as secure on a college campus. And every New Yorker walking into a grocery store, or a house of worship or a community center should just feel as safe as well. That is my vision for New York, plain and simple. Everybody deserves it, and I know with the commitment of the people in this room and across this state, we’ll be benefiting from our resources, but also having leadership represented by our elected leaders here today, this is how we make a difference. This is how we change the tides of time. This is how we win against hate.
And so, my closing message is this: we are recommitted, I can feel it. I can feel it. We are recommitted, and as more ideas come from people you’re protecting, your organizations, come to me, come to your legislators, because I don’t mind signing every bill I have to every day of the week, if it’ll be a step toward eradicating hate in the State of New York. And remember this, remember this: an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and we will stand up. Thank you. Thank you.
And with that, let me introduce to the stage, to the podium, Assemblymember Dan Rosenthal to talk about his legislation. Assemblymember Rosenthal.