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Cuomo unveils 3-part plan to combat hate crimes in NY State

November 21, 2016 By David Klepper Associated Press
Gov. Andrew Cuomo. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the New York State Police to create a special unit to investigate reports of hate crimes in the wake of what he said is “a whirlwind of hate and division all across this country.”

The Democratic governor also announced plans to create a legal defense fund for immigrants who cannot afford an attorney and said he will introduce legislation expanding the protections under the state’s human rights law to cover all public and private school students statewide.

Cuomo announced the three initiatives Sunday at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Manhattan as part of a plan to combat hate crimes in the aftermath of the divisive presidential election.

“We will never allow fear and intolerance to tear at the fabric of who we are — New Yorkers are stronger than that, and we are better than that,” Cuomo said. “With these decisive actions, we say to people of all backgrounds and beliefs: New York is your home and refuge, and we will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”

Cuomo’s plan is a response to what he called the “ugly political discourse” that didn’t end with Republican Donald Trump’s win over Democrat Hillary Clinton in this month’s election.

Investigations are underway into a number of alleged hate crimes committed after the election.

In one, a swastika and “Make America White Again” were scrawled onto a wall at a softball field in Wellsville. In another, a swastika along with the word “Trump” was found in the common area of a dorm at SUNY Geneseo. Police are also investigating swastikas scrawled on dorm room doors at The New School in lower Manhattan.

The FBI reported Monday that hate crimes against Muslims rose to their highest number since the 9/11 attacks in 2015.

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Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said Cuomo’s proposals are “critical to protecting those who have become targets of the increased rhetoric of hate, fear and bigotry since the last presidential election.”

 

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