Following anonymous emailed bomb threats at multiple Jewish Community Centers throughout New York State earlier today, Governor Cuomo held a press briefing at the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center, one of the JCCs that received a threat. Local and State Police responded to the incident at the Albany JCC, and the building was safely evacuated and then declared safe.
Governor Cuomo visited the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center in 2017 following a wave of bomb threats targeting it and other JCCs including those in Tarrytown and New Rochelle.
VIDEO of the Governor's briefing is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of today's briefing is available here.
PHOTOS of today's briefing will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's briefing is below:
Governor Cuomo: This afternoon there was an email bomb threat to this Jewish Community Center and a number of others and the building is evacuated. The Albany City Police Department, the State Police came out with dogs. They swept the building. The whole building has been cleared. The dogs went through the building and the building has been cleared and it's been turned back to management of the JCC.
These types of situations are so ugly and so unfortunate. What's worse is we're seeing more and more of them. We've had about 42 incidents of anti-Semitism in this state this past couple of months so it's not getting better. It's only getting worse.
We take every threat seriously. I worked in the federal government and emergency management and someone said to me once, it's the threat that you don't take seriously that turns out to be real so we have to take every one seriously and that's what they did here. I want to applaud the Albany City Police Department that did a great job and I want to applaud the State Police, Lieutenant Comstock is here, but they did a great job, and luckily everything has been given a green light so the management is taking back the building. I don't think they're going to reopen today but that's their decision and we're going to track down the best we can where this email threat came from.
It's so hard to trace emails nowadays because they go through different routers. You have international emails that look like the come from some place in the United States but that would be the next phase of the investigation.
Reporter: Which other JCC's? You said there were others.
Governor Cuomo: There were about 18. None others in this area that we know of.
Reporter: Throughout the state though?
Governor Cuomo: Yes. The JCCs, this is, when you threaten a JCC, these are, it's not just an anti-Semitic attack. You have children who go to the JCC. You have gym facilities here. So, you are really threatening children. It is one of the most heinous things you can do. And again, it is fear and it is terror. That is all it is - terror. They had about a hundred people in the building and the building had to be evacuated. The management had to go through the building and say we are evacuating the building because there is a bomb threat. Just imagine how that makes you feel. You have your children in a class in the building and they say there is a bomb threat - that is terror. And that is what they are trying to do, they are trying to create that terror. We can't let them. For the Jewish community in the Capital District, this was a terrible, unfortunate incident, but it no way reflects how people feel about the Jewish community in the Capital District or in this State. The Jewish culture is a big part of New York. New York would not be New York without our Jewish brothers and sisters. So I just want to say on behalf of all the good people of New York, we are sorry for this unfortunate incident and it in no way reflects how New Yorkers feel about the Jewish community.
Reporter: You said there have been 42 incidents of anti-Semitism already and it is not even March. How can people of this faith now that they are safe when they go to worship?
Governor Cuomo: Well look, first of all it is not just anti-Semitism. There is a contagion of hate all across this country. The number of anti- African American attacks is up, the number of KKK groups and activity is up. The number of incidents against the LGBTQ community are up, so it's a virus all across this nation. People are worried about the Coronavirus, which we're watching in this state - there's also a virus of hate, and it's spreading and it's spreading quickly. And unfortunately this state has also been infected, as hard as that is to believe, because New York, we're all about diversity, right? This is one of the most diverse states in the United States, but no state is doing more to combat anti-Semitism than this state. We proposed a new law called the Domestic Terrorism Law - we're actually funding security at Jewish schools and Jewish programs as well as other faiths. We have a progressive effort to educate our young people, so they understand how beautiful a thing diversity is, and they understand different cultures, so you don't fear what's different, you actually embrace the differences - that's what makes New York, "New York." So we have the most aggressive agenda in the country, and I'm proud of that.
Reporter: I understand the bomb threat came in via email, do you know what time it was emailed and when the email was discovered?
Governor Cuomo: It was - what would you say? Mike Kopy here, who is head of emergency management, and Lieutenant Comstock. It was a couple of hours ago?
Michael Kopy: A little over an hour ago after 11:30, bomb threat came in - that we were notified it was received via email.
Reporter: And were the other 18 JCCs listed by name?
Michael Kopy: They went to individuals that had JCC accounts - the matter is being investigated right now, so I went to give a little time to ferret that out.
Reporter: Did it seem like they were going to any particular people like managers in charge?
Michael Kopy: Probably best not to discuss why these people were selected and let the investigators work on that right now.
Governor Cuomo: Okay, thank you.