First Round of Grants Awarded to Academic and Community Centers in Brooklyn
Part of Governor Cuomo's $25 Million Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program
A List of Grant Awards is Available Here
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced more than $5.8 million has been awarded through the state's $25 million Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program to help strengthen security measures at nonprofit schools, day care centers and cultural museums in Brooklyn. These efforts will help prevent hate crimes or attacks against these facilities because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. This first round of funding provides $5,824,607 for 118 projects at facilities throughout Brooklyn. More information is available here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on Governor Cuomo's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Governor Cuomo: Good morning. Well what a pleasure it is for me to be here at Magen David Yeshivah.
First to Devorah Halberstam. I am a big, big fan. You know in life certain things happen to people. And you get to see what a person is really made of when a bad situation happens. How do they respond? Do they get angry? Do they get bitter? What Devorah has done is she's taken her pain of losing a child, and there can be no greater, more unnatural pain than losing a child, that is not the natural way, especially to a senseless act of violence. But Devorah has taken that pain and rather than getting bitter, rather than getting angry, rather than lashing out, she took that pain and she turned it into a positive. And in many ways that is the finest teaching of the Jewish culture. They teach us in the good book, tikkun olam. The obligation is to reach out and to heal the divide and to make the world better. The teaching of tzedakah, to do justice. To bring social justice and fairness, and that is exactly what Devorah has done. She's taken a terrible pain, and she's turned it into a beautifully good thing with the children's Museum in honor of her son Ari. She's a person we respect, we follow, and we thank her for what she's done. Let's give her a big round of applause.
Allen Fagin, we do a lot of work together. In Italian, we would call Allen a mensch. He is, yes, it was Italian first, mensch. And it was appropriated along the way, but Allen is a great advocate. He's a brilliant man. He's always fighting for the Jewish people, and he's always winning. Let's give Allen Fagin a big round of applause. Rabbi Berkowitz, thank you very much for having us here today. Thank you for the hospitality. Thank you for your leadership.
We have our great Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, who's with us today. Councilman Yeger, thank you for all of your beautiful work, thank you for your example.
And it's my pleasure to be here. I am of Italian descent, and when I was your age, the students who are here, which was many, many years ago, as you can tell by the wrinkles on my face, but my father, my grandfather was an Italian immigrant. An immigrant experience was basically similar among different races, different religions, and my grandfather would say, in his broken Italian accent, he would say, "God bless America. God bless America." And he would say it with such sincerity and such passion and he would always tear up a little bit when he said, "God bless America." And I didn't appreciate it when I was your age. As I got older, and the older I get, the more I understand what he meant by "God bless America." Because America was a unique concept. America was country founded like no other country on the globe. America said we don't care what your race, what your religion, we don't care what your wealth is. We have a new premise that we can create a country from people of different religions and different races who are all invited to one country. And the unification will be that we all accept the same ideal. And the ideal is a country that says two rules: opportunity for all. Doesn't matter your race, doesn't matter your religion, doesn't matter your wealth, opportunity for all. We should all coexist and do well individually and do well collectively. And the second rule was discrimination against none. Because if you're going to have a country that is premised on differences, then you have to respect those differences. And you cannot judge by those differences, because that gets to the essence of who we are as a country.
New York State was very much the laboratory for that experiment. We were on the east coast, people were coming from Europe, they came to New York first. So we have that beautiful mosaic, we have that beautiful diversity here in New York State. 20 million people from all around the world, every race, every religion, every creed. All in one geographic space. Living side by side. New York City, all crammed together. This beautiful rainbow of differences. With those two rules. Opportunity for all. Discrimination against none.
Now, managing those differences is hard. Why? Because when people get scared, or when people get angry, they tend to be afraid of the differences. They tend to target the differences. And that's what we're seeing today now in society, these are challenging times. We on many levels, and we are seeing more anger, more negativity among the differences in this country. The ADL said that between 2016 and 2017, a 60 percent increase in anti-Semitic activity. 60 percent increase. State of New York, 90 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents. 90 percent.
Now the Jewish community has always been an essential part of New York. New York would not be New York without the Jewish community. There are more Jewish people in New York than any place in the world outside of Israel. And it goes back to the founding of New York. Emma Lazarus, the great poem on the Statue of Liberty, was written by a Jewish woman. That's how far back our history goes. It is inextricably linked. Our culture as New Yorkers is influenced by the Jewish culture. We grew up together, we went to school together. That friendship, those bonds, make us who we are. I have three sisters. Two of my three sisters married men of the Jewish faith. The third one married a person from, whose people were from Ireland. None of them married an Italian man. Which has raised significant questions in my household. Why wouldn't you marry an Italian? I blame it all on my brother, but - that is how close we are. Those are the connections that we have.
Why are the times so challenging? Well you have a number of different things coming together. Devorah's point about terrorism is very real. We see international tensions. Israel is our ally in the Middle East and we're proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel. And there are terrorist tensions that are increasing. As a young man, I went to Israel on one of my first trips. My father, God rest his souls said, when you go I want you to sit with Shimon Peres. We lost Shimon Peres a couple of years ago, but one of the great men on the globe - literally on the globe. And I sat with Shimon Peres as a young man and we were talking about terrorism and how Israel death with the constant threat of terrorism, almost on a daily, weekly basis. And he said to me something I'll never forget, which turned out to be profound. He said, the terrorist come for us now because they can get to us, because they surround us and they can reach us. But one day, they will come for you in America. When they figure out how to cross the ocean, they will come for you because the enemy is Democracy. It is not Israel. And it is Israel today and it is America because of your belief in Democracy. And when they figure out how to cross the ocean, America is going to have the same problem. That was 40 years ago. That was before 9/11. That was before everything. And now they have figured out how to cross the ocean. The internet created a bridge to communicate their hate, their anger, and now in many ways live with it with increasing frequency. Ari was a victim of it. That is a challenge we have going on.
In this country, we have challenges. We have people who are angry. They're angry about the economy. They're angry about their jobs. They're angry about their insecurity. And the easiest thing to do is to blame other people. Blame the differences. Blame the immigrants. Blame the people of different religions. And that's why you see the increase in anti-Semitism. You also see a big increase in white supremacist groups. You even see a big increase in the Ku Klux Klan activity. The KKK, which I thought was something of the past, but that is increasing. And then you also see an increase in school violence overall. You have shootings in school, who ever heard of this? Not when we were growing up. It was unheard of. We are 23 weeks into the new year, do you know how many school violence episodes there have been? 23. How frightening is that? So you put these things together - increasing terrorism, more domestic tension, demonizing differences, demonizing our diversity, more violence in our society - and that's what we're dealing with. Bomb threats to the children's museums. Bomb threats to JCCs all across the state. And Allen is right, what is government's role? Well, government's role is to talk about the issue. But government's role when done right, is to take action. It's about action. It's about doing something.
I mentioned my grandfather. I was named for him. He was my father's father. The Italian tradition is you name for a living person. His name was Andrea. My name is Andrew. Before my father was in politics, when a politician would come on TV and would be talking on TV, my grandfather would go like this. And I said to him, Grandpa what is that? I thought it was like a puppet. He said, all these politicians, all they do is talk, talk, talk. No action. We need action. I took that lesson to heart. My government is not a government of talk. My government is a government of action. You're here to make a difference. You're here to make a change. You're here to improve things. So yes, I say, New York is the state that is going to stand up against bigotry, against discrimination, against intolerance. It is anti-American. We will have no part of it whatsoever. We will have no tolerance whatsoever. But we are not just going to talk about it, we are going to act. We've put together a special unit in the police to investigate any hate crime that happens in the state of New York. We are going to find out who did it. From the smallest incident—if a swastika is painted somewhere—we want to know why and who and how and we're going to punish the person who did it. There is zero tolerance for this activity.
But also, we want to make sure that our schools are safe and that our schools are sanctuaries. And every student, when they come to school, they should know they're in a safe place. When a parent drops off a child to school, they should know, my child is in a safe place. And we know, we know, that religious schools have been targeted. We know that there have been threats, so let's do something about it. And what we did on the state level, is we appropriated $25 million for the Secure Communities to make sure our religious schools are safe. And today, we are proud to announce that we're going to award $5 million to 80 facilities in Brooklyn to put in additional security equipment and cameras and hardening of the facility so you know when you go to school, you are in a safe place. You're here to learn and you are protected.
And it's another way of showing that New York State has zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or racism or any negative activity based on a person's race, color, creed. New York is proud of its relationship with the Jewish community. We celebrate our relationship with the Jewish community. We thank the Jewish community for the cultural addition they have made to New York. We thank the Jewish community for making New York, New York. And we stand shoulder to shoulder with the state of Israel always and forever. And whenever there's a question of, who is the ally to Israel? New York will stand up and say, it starts with us. We honor Israel, we appreciate Israel, we stand with Israel. They are our ally and that will never change. Thank you and God bless you.