Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the launch of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes on Tuesday, on the heels of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti being found at the Silver Gull Beach Club in Breezy Point last week.
The launch was initially for November, but with an uptick in hate crimes across the borough, the city and the country it comes at a time when the World’s Borough, the most ethnically diverse borough in the U.S. could use it.
“In New York City, we cherish our differences and reject all attempts to divide,” said de Blasio. “Everyone is respected and supported, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or any other quality that makes them who they are.”
At the club in Breezy Point, “Heil Hitler,” “gas chamber,” swastikas and words targeted at blacks were found, according to an email that was sent out on Aug. 30 to members of the Silver Gull.
The United States Park Police in New York has called the incident at the federal seaside a bias crime.
In mid-August, there were 26 hate crime complaints throughout Queens within 11 precincts and 138 complaints of hate crimes throughout the city, according to police.
The rise in hate crimes in the borough and throughout the country has led to Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposing a Domestic Terrorism Act and signing a Religious Garb Bill that was championed by Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside).
The signing of the latter came shortly after a Hindu priest dressed in religious garbs was attacked while walking to his temple in Glen Oaks in August.
The new office comes with a new executive director in Deborah Lauter, a former senior vice president of the Anti-Defamation League.
“With Deborah leading our Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes we’ll be able to take a closer look at the root cause of hate and weed it out of our society. Together, we’ll work with communities to make our streets safer,” said de Blasio.
Lauter has dedicated her career to fighting bigotry and is excited about her new role.
“By establishing this office, the mayor and City Council have demonstrated their commitment to combating the disturbing growth of hate violence,” Lauter said. “I look forward to coordinating with city agencies that have been stakeholders in addressing hate crimes, elevating the successful work they do, and developing new strategies to work with communities throughout the five boroughs to ensure that all New Yorkers feel respected, safe and supported.”