NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will remain vigilant and aggressive in addressing hate crimes as the city deals with an increase in anti-Semitic incidents and other acts of hate.
Overall, hate crimes are up 113 percent this year in New York City. There have been 100 incidents so far this year compared to 47 in the same period last year. Anti-Semitic incidents are up the most. Last year there were 19 incidents, this year 55, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Tuesday following a meeting with the mayor and Jewish community leaders at the JCC in Sea View on Tuesday.
The meeting came as more bomb threats were reported at Anti-Defamation League offices, as well as Jewish Community Centers in New York and other areas across the country.
“These are coming in at an unprecedented rate,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.
On Tuesday, the ADL headquarters on the corner of East 39th Street and Third Avenue was targeted with a bomb threat.
And as CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, police sources said the recent spate of hate crimes has been particularly ugly.
Two days ago, for example, an employee of the East Midwood Jewish Center received a voicemail stating: “Oy vey, we are coming to spray your synagogue with pigs blood, the goyim. That’s right you (slur). Take a hike.”
“We don’t take any of it lightly. People have every reason to be concerned,” de Blasio said. “But we’re going to go right at any acts of hate. We’re going to crack down on any movement that purveys hate as a way of showing that we’re not going to let it happen here.”
“We are in a state of vigilance,” de Blasio said. “This is a very troubling reality. This is a moment in time, a moment in history where forces of hate have been unleashed and it is exceedingly unsettling to people who are the victims of that hate.”
The mayor vowed that any act of bias that violates the law will be investigated thoroughly.
“We need to show that those who purvey hate and break the law will suffer the consequences,” de Blasio said. “These horrible threats go against the values of New York City, they are unacceptable to us and we will use every tool we have to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Rabbi Michael Miller said members of the community appreciate the NYPD efforts. Still, there is a feeling of vulnerability.
“Our vulnerabilities are accentuated; they’re amplified by these acts of hatred,” said Miller, of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Nationwide, federal officials have been investigating more than 120 threats against Jewish institutions in three dozens states since January. Jewish cemeteries have also been vandalized.
Last week, 20 bomb threats were called into Jewish Community Centers in 12 separate states during the day, including multiple locations in New York and New Jersey.
On Friday, police arrested Juan Thompson, 31, in St. Louis in connection with several threats. Federal officials said he faces charges in at least eight threats since January against JCCs nationwide and a bomb threat to the Anti-Defamation League in an effort to harass and vilify his former girlfriend.
De Blasio said there has also been an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT incidents in recent months. All will be addressed “very aggressively,” he said.
“An attack on one community is an attack on all communities,” de Blasio said.
The mayor called on the public to report any acts of crime.
“We need the people of this city to be fully participant in the efforts against hate and bias,” de Blasio said. “Every New Yorker can be part of the solution by not looking the other way and by reporting anything you hear.”
Officials said Jewish day schools are also using a new city grant to hire private security. Miller said he is also working to get more federal funds to help Jewish groups with their security programs.
A delegation of Jewish groups, including the UJA Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council, will be in Washington on Wednesday to urge congressional leaders to increase funding for at-risk groups so they can upgrade their private security programs.
Anyone who believes an act of hate or an attack is in progress should call 911 immediately. Those with information related to a potential act of bias or hatred should call 311.