Hate crime prevention office to open months ahead of schedule due to sharp uptick in anti-Semitic incidents
Despite crime in New York City dropping to record lows, hate crimes throughout the city have increased dramatically, leading to the expedited arrival of a new hate crime prevention office — opening this summer, months ahead of schedule.
Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement at a press conference on crime statistics Tuesday, saying the office would support victims and constantly update the community on the city’s battle against hate crimes.
“That was originally slated to open up in November. I’m announcing that we will open that office this summer. We’re speeding up that opening. We’re working with the council to get it up and running immediately,” de Blasio told reporters.
There were 184 total hate crimes through June 2, 2019, as opposed to 112 in the same period last year. A spike in anti-Semitic incidents has especially concerned elected officials and Jewish community leaders.
There has been a 90 percent rise this year in anti-Semitic hate crimes, which account for about 60 percent of total hate crimes in 2019.
Devorah Halberstam, director of the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights – where someone scrawled an anti-Semitic note last week – told the Brooklyn Eagle she’s glad the office is opening up ahead of schedule. “Time is of the essence. The important part is that major things need to happen here. It shouldn’t just be another office,” Halberstam said.
“In the six months since the City Council passed my legislation to create the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, we have seen a 63 percent rise in overall hate crimes,” said Chaim Deutsch. “This office is a huge piece of the puzzle to resolve this issue.”
Despite the mayor’s announcement, it remained unclear if the office would be fully funded as councilmembers requested. In May, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson held a press conference in Williamsburg demanding that the mayor provide over $100,000 more for the new office.
The Mayor’s Office said at the time it believed the office needed $336,000 to operate in this upcoming fiscal year. The council disagreed, saying the office needed $475,000 in the first year, and $713,000 per year moving forward.
“We’re going to consider what we need to do to make that work given the new timeline,” de Blasio said when asked if his office would provide more funding for the office.
A spokesperson for the council told the Eagle that the mayor has not indicated he will provide more funding for the office, saying they still were offered about $336,000.
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