Budgetary backing

NY gov. announces $51 million in funding for hate crimes prevention

Gov. Kathy Hochul also signed legislation slated to enhance investigation and reporting requirements for hate crimes occurring on college campuses.

New York State will provide $51 million to 1,000 nonprofit organizations that are considered vulnerable to hate crimes, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday. Her move comes as Jews in New York City and the state face ongoing antisemitic incidents. 

“Hate has absolutely no place in our state, and we will continue to do whatever it takes to make sure every New Yorker is safe from baseless violence that stems from prejudice,” Hochul said. “This is a historic investment in the communities that need our help the most, and with these funds, New York’s most at-risk organizations will be able to invest in the security measures they need to stay safe. In the face of disgusting vitriol and violence, I want to be clear: we are not afraid. If you attack one of us, you attack us all — and no one wins a fight against New Yorkers.”

According to Hochul, the funding, made available immediately, will go toward adding staff and advancing technology and security systems to any community that is considered at-risk because of their beliefs or ideology. Selected organizations, expected to include Jewish schools, synagogues and community centers, as well as nonprofits in other faith communities, have not yet been told they will be receiving the grants.

Mitchell Silber, executive director of Community Security Initiative (CSI), a joint project of UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, told eJewishPhilanthropy that it is was “great to see the governor acknowledge that unfortunately New York state leads the country when it comes to antisemitic incidents.” 

“New York is the leader in a lot of things, we shouldnt be the leader in antisemitism in the country,” Silber said, explaining that CSI works with many of the organizations who will be recipients of the new grants. He estimated that CSI assisted about 200 groups who applied for the funding, which had to be submitted by the end of February. “Everyone has been waiting with bated breath since to find out if in fact they are the winner of what can be up to three or four $50,000 grants for different programs such as schools, synagogues, museums,” he told eJP. 

Silber, a former director of intelligence analysis at the New York City Police Department (NYPD), noted that the new grants are unique in that there is a cybersecurity element. “It’s an innovation that New York is ahead of the federal government in providing funding for cybersecurity protection. That will be interesting to see how it’s implemented.” 

The NYPD reported 947 hate crimes in 2022, the most recorded in the past five years, and a 20% increase as compared to 2021. ??In New York City, Jews are consistently targeted far more than any other group. 2022 saw a significant increase in antisemitic hate crimes, notably in the Empire State, where 580 antisemitic incidents were reported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a 39% increase relative to the 416 incidents reported in 2021. 

The first half of 2023 has seen a notable decrease in anti-Jewish hate crimes in New York, with 100 incidents reported by the NYPD, a 20% decrease compared to the same time last year. The NYPD’s monthly data is preliminary and is subject to revisions.

CSI data reports a 13% decrease in antisemitic incidents within the same time frame. Silber told eJP there is no known cause for the decline. “There haven’t been any particular NYPD policies or strategies that are responsible for decreased antisemitic hate crimes over the last six months. We don’t know why it’s down,” he said. 

In addition to announcing the funding, Hochul signed legislation designed to enhance investigation and reporting requirements for hate crimes occurring on college campuses. The bill calls for any college that receives state aid to implement a plan to effectively investigate hate crimes. 

A 2021 study by the ADL found that one in three Jewish students nationwide experienced antisemitism on campus.

State Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal, a Democrat who represents several heavily Jewish neighborhoods in Queens, applauded the college campus initiative. “Every student has the right to feel safe and protected on their college campus,” Rosenthal, who is set to step down from his District 27 seat later this month to become UJA-Federation’s vice president of government relations, said in a statement. “We cannot allow educational institutions to become asylums of antisemitism, bigotry and hostility. This bill will allow the public to realize if any individual institution has a particular problem — and whether its administration is taking proper steps to address it. I am deeply appreciative to Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law.” 

Silber expressed concern that the legislation may not deter antisemitic rhetoric. 

“CSI has seen a rash of antisemitic incidents as we work with Hillels in City University of New York (CUNY) schools as well as private universities around greater New York,” he told eJP. “Maybe not all rose to hate crime but certainly antisemitic incidents. It becomes tricky when a speaker makes comments that are antisemitic but don’t rise to a level of hate crime. It’s a complicated area to navigate because it’s not a crime, per se,” he continued. 

Silber referenced a controversial and widely denounced commencement speech at CUNY Law School back in May in which a graduate accused Israel of indiscriminately murdering Palestinians and called the NYPD “fascists.” 

“I don’t know if this legislation will make a difference in terms of rhetoric because of freedom of speech,” Silber said. “Universities are hesitant to act when it comes to protected speech, even if it makes certain groups of students feel unsafe on campus.” 

Tuesday’s announcement builds upon a series of actions Hochul has taken to combat hate in the state since she took office in August 2021. 

Hochul launched a statewide Hate and Bias Prevention Unit within the New York State Division of Human Rights in December 2022. The unit is designed to support communities in which a hate crime incident has struck. In May, Hochul pledged $25million in hate crime prevention funding. The latter announcement was made at New York’s first-ever Unity Summit, a statewide convening of more than 500 New Yorkers representing community groups, faith leaders and public safety experts.