Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered remarks at the Sidney Albert Albany JCC to condemn hate crimes and highlight the state's actions to combat anti-Semitism. Last week, Governor Cuomo announced new actions to combat hate crimes and anti-Semitism in New York State, including a $25 million grant program to boost safety and security at New York’s schools and day care centers at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission and a new hate crimes hotline and text line to report incidents of bias and discrimination.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
First I want to thank Mr. Adam Chaskin for his kindness today in taking some time out and taking us on a tour of this great facility that provides extraordinary services for full-range of the community. I also want to thank Mark Weintraub from the Schenectady JCC for being with us today and Robert Kovach from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York and Superintendent George Beach from the New York State Police.
First to Adam, Mark and Robert and the leadership of this community center and to community centers all across this state. We want to applaud your courage and your stamina. We know that you have been going through a difficult time and your courage is a strength to all of us and we want to applaud them for standing up to the ugliness that they have seen. There has been a rash of anti-Semitism as you know all across this nation – Canada also – and this state has not been spared. There have been bomb threats, desecration of Jewish cemeteries, swastikas, racist slogans, that literally have appeared from one end of this state to the other. We’ve seen it in Tarrytown, Staten Island, Manhattan, Syracuse, New Rochelle, Buffalo, and Plainview on Long Island. It doesn’t seem like it’s getting better. If anything, it seems like it’s getting worse.
This is repugnant to everything we believe as New Yorkers. It is an act of cowardice. It suggests a basic misunderstanding of who we are as New Yorkers and what we believe as New Yorkers. This state was founded on the premise of equality and the promise of freedom from discrimination. We are all immigrants in this state. We are all from someplace else, unless you are a Native American, and the operating principle is that we open our arms and we embrace all. That is what this state is about, fundamentally. And these acts of anti-Semitism are repugnant to that very premise.
It’s especially reprehensible when you think these Jewish Community Centers often primarily handle children. They offer day care. They offer pre-K services. So these threats are against children. And when you talk of really ugly, reprehensible behavior, I don't think there's anything worse than racist activity, bigoted activity and targeting facilities that serve our children. It is also, not only is it immoral, unethical, and disgusting, it's also illegal and it violates the law. And we want the perpetrators to know that we are fully committed to doing justice in this case. This is intolerable for us.
The state police of New York have been organized, they've been given additional resources. A special unit has been put together under Superintendent George Beach to investigate just these activities. The state police are working hand in glove with local police, as well as the FBI, and everything that can be done is being done. And I'm confident that we will find the people behind this illegality and ugliness. We've also taken some extraordinary steps in this case. We've offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to a prosecution of anyone in any of these instances. I've also put $25 million in my state budget proposal for security for facilities such as this one so they can have the resources to provide security on their own.
But I also want to assure the Jewish community that the people of the state of New York speak with one voice in condemning this activity. And the people of the state of New York all stand in solidarity with the Jewish community. The Jewish community is very important to New York. We're proud to be the largest population of Jewish people outside of Israel. They are an integral part of the community, a part of our history, a big part of our future. I have three sisters. Two of them married Jewish men, so they're part of my family literally and they are part of the metaphoric family of New York. So we all stand together in condemning this activity. Once again, I want to thank the members here, Adam Chaskin, for opening their doors today and allowing us to deliver this message. Thank you.
VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.