New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] unveiled statewide initiatives to combat [Gothamist report] hate crime and protect civil rights on Sunday. While addressing the congregation at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church he proposed the addition of a hate crimes unit in the state police as well as legislation to increase protection against discrimination against public school students. Cuomo also called for an expansion on human rights law as well as a public-private legal defense fund to provide legal assistance for immigrants who cannot afford aid. In an open letter [text, PDF] addressed to the student population of New York, he reiterated his intolerance to hate and discrimination and reminds immigrant students that they are “welcome here.”
Cuomo and civil rights groups including the ACLU are attributing the rise in hate crime to the election results of November 8. “The ugly political discourse of the election did not end on Election Day,” Cuomo said. “In many ways it has gotten worse, into a social crisis that now challenges our identity as a state and as a nation and our people.” Incidents of racism, sexism, and bigotry have been reported including a swastika painted [Reuters report] on a baseball dugout with the words “Make America White Again” in Wellsville, New York. The FBI released statistics [JURIST report] earlier this month showing that hate crimes against Muslims has risen 67 percent in the last year.