NEW YORK: New York state took fresh steps Thursday to combat a spike in anti-Semitism and hate crimes, promising a US$25 million grant to boost security and a US$5,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement after meeting dozens of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders from across the state.
Hate crimes shot up in 2016 mainly against Muslims, Jews, blacks, Latinos, Asians and the LGBT community, according to New York City police.
Advocacy groups have also recorded an explosion in hate crimes since Donald Trump won the presidential election last November.
“With the recent explosion of anti-Semitism and hate crimes, it is more important than ever before that we do everything in our power to ensure the safety and equal treatment of all New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.
“Any acts of bias or discrimination will be met with the full force of the law,” he added. “New York is and always has been a place that celebrates diversity and religious tolerance.”
The $25 million grant program is designed to boost safety at schools and day-care centers considered at particular risk, by funding additional security measures and training needs.
The state is also expanding a toll-free hotline, set up last November, to allow people to report bias and discrimination by text message.
The authorities are also offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to arrests and convictions for hate crimes, Cuomo’s office said.
The Jewish Community Center Association of North America has recorded 69 bomb threat incidents at dozens of centers in 27 US states and one Canadian province since the start of the year.
On Wednesday, a bomb threat targeted the Anti-Defamation League’s national headquarters in Manhattan. On Monday alone, nearly a dozen Jewish community centers in the United States received bomb threats that prompted evacuations.
All turned out to be hoaxes.