Hate Crimes on the Rise in New York City

Hate crimes in New York City have increased 64 percent during the first half of 2019. More than 184 hate crimes were recorded through June 2, according to NBC News, and 112 hate-related incidents were recorded in 2018.

The increase is led by hate-related incidents against Jewish Americans, who represent more than 110 incidents, up from 58 in 2018. Crimes based on sexual orientation increased from 15 in 2018 to 18 in 2019. Attacks based on race increased from 14 in 2018 to 18 in 2019. White people were also included in the statistics as victims of hate crimes, with 11 crimes reported, according to NBC News.

Many attribute the increase in anti-Semetic hate incidents to the October 2018 attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh’s historic Squirrel Hill community, which killed 11 congregants. In November, several hate-related incidents occurred in Brooklyn within one block of each other in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A Prospect Heights synagogue was also vandalized in early November with the phrase “Die Jew Rats.” Several days later, a Columbia University professor found swastikas painted in his office. Some have suggested these attacks are similar to those launched by terrorists, according to NY Patch.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has pledged to work aggressively to address the surge in crime. More than 75 people have been arrested in connection with these incidents.

“There is no place for hate in New York City and the detectives of the Hate Crime Task Force are working diligently to eliminate these crimes and to bring perpetrators of hate to justice,” NYPD stated in its monthly newsletter, according to NBC News.

The Office of Intelligence and Counterterrorism is monitoring online hate group activity and has seen an uptick in tone and rhetoric, according to NBC News. In one of the latest incidents of hate, Gay Pride Rainbow flags were set on fire at a gay bar in Harlem. The flag burning occurred after midnight on Friday, June 1 at the Alibi Lounge, on the eve of Pride Month. Governor Andrew Cuomo has pledged the resources of the State Police Hate Crime Task Force to assist in the investigation, according to CBS2 New York.

In an effort to address this surge in hate crimes, the City Council and the NYPD are creating new agencies tasked with public safety issues. The New York City Council created the Office of Hate Crime Prevention in January, and Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged $336,000 in the executive budget for fiscal year 2020 to fund the office. City Council members, however, said that the pledge falls short of the $475,000 needed to fully fund the office, according to the Wall Street Journal.

NYPD had also created a special inter-agency unit to engage in community outreach and investigation of bias cases throughout the city. The State Hate Crimes Task Force — which is run by the State Police in collaboration with the State Division of Human Rights and Division of Criminal Justice Services — works to prevent, investigate and monitor, according to the task Force's website.

The task force has already received thousands of complaints and investigates those cases with probable cause by working with local law enforcement and prosecutors. Referrals are received from law enforcement, as well as by phone, hotline, text, and other channels. The Task Force also provides education, public awareness, and training. Crime and Bias incidents in New York are defined as “any offense or unlawful act that is motivated in whole or substantial part by a person's, a group's or a place's identification with a particular race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, ancestry, national origin, or sexual orientation (including gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender) as determined by the commanding officer of the Hate Crime Task Force.” Serious hate crimes and bias incidents are reported through 911 and non serious crimes are reported to the local precinct. When hate crimes are reported, the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is notified and victims are assured of receiving appropriate assistance. This includes assistance from the local precinct’s affairs team and the task force, according to the NYC website.

About the Author

Stephen G. Hall is a sections editor for The North Star. He is a historian specializing in 19th and 20th century African American and American intellectual, social and cultural history and the African Diaspora. Hall is the author of A Faithful Account of the Race: African American Historical Writing in Nineteenth-Century America and is working on a new book exploring the scholarly production of Black historians on the African Diaspora from 1885 to 1960.