There were 16 hate crimes on May 24, 2021. Usually, Deborah Lauter, Executive Director of New York City’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, gets one or two a day to review.
Ms. Lauter was one of the presenters at the Queens Borough President’s Hate Crimes Virtual Forum on May 25.
There have been 202 hate crimes in New York City as of May 17, compared to 114 by the same time in 2020. That’s a 77.2% increase. Of the 42 complaints of hate crimes in the first quarter of 2021, 27 were anti-Jewish, according to NYPD’s statistics.
After the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force determines a violent hate crime has occurred, the NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes alerts elected and legislative officials, appropriate community organizations, and the local community board.
If one is seeing a hate crime unfold, the “Five Ds” are recommended, said Alicia Miranda of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes: Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct.
Distract – Start a conversation with the target or find another way to draw attention away from him or her. For example, ask the victim the time or for directions. The idea is to ignore the harasser and engage directly with the person being targeted. Spill a cup of coffee, drop coins, or make a commotion to distract.
Delegate – Find someone of authority like a store manager, security guard, etc.
Delay – Check in with the survivor after the incident. This shows he/she is valued. Are you okay? Can I sit with you?
Document – Take videos with a cell phone, take notes. Never post the video without the harmed person’s consent.
Direct – Say, “Leave them alone,” or “You’re being racist.” The harasser might then turn his attention towards the one intervening. Ask bystanders for help intervening. One can physically put himself between the harasser and the victim, but always assess the situation and safety of the victim and the person intervening.
Captain Timothy Hollywood of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force said that people shouldn’t clean off hate graffiti or touch a weapon from an incident. The police need “a pristine crime scene” for their investigative detectives.
Don’t post video onto social media. Instead, call 911 immediately. “We need to start our investigation immediately for the quick apprehension of the suspect,” said Captain Hollywood.
Make sure the day and time on videos are accurate. If houses or apartment buildings have video cameras, know who can access that video quickly because doormen and building superintendents change frequently.
Training about hate crimes is done at the Police Academy, as well as to sergeants, lieutenants, and captains.
To prosecute a hate crime, intent has to be proven. “The victim is targeted because of something inherent, something essential about the person,” said Michael Brovner, Queens District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau Chief. Everyone has a race, religion, etc., so absolutely anyone can be a victim of a hate crime, said Brovner.
Hate crimes hurt everybody, because “No one wants to live in a society where people are targeted or
victimized because of who they are,” said Brovner.
Painting, drawing, or etching a Nazi swastika, burning a cross in public (something the KKK group has done), etching, painting, drawing, or displaying a noose (a symbol of lynching black men) are all Aggravated Harassment in the first degree, an E Felony.
If a crime is committed because of someone’s identity, the criminal charges are upgraded.
Proving a motive to the hate crime can come from what the perpetrator said during the crime, a confession to police, location of the crime (outside a religious institution), or the person’s history of attacking these types of people.
Tattoos, social media postings, writings, and graffiti can be used as evidence by prosecutors. Expert witnesses might describe conflicts between two groups.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said, “The sooner we get a report, the more video we get, the more phones we are able to get access to, the more witnesses that we have to a hate crime, the better the prosecution stands to meet all the elements of the underlying crime, as well as the hate crime issue.”
“When it comes to hate crimes, we can’t prosecute our way out of it,” said Katz. Education, cross-cultural experiences, and the many Zoom meetings such as this forum, “is really the way we get through this.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards started the forum by saying, “We all know the grim reality confronting us today. Hate, bias, and discrimination are on the rise in our borough, city, and nation.
“According to the Anti-Defamation League, New York had the highest rate of anti-Semitic incidents this past year. Our hearts are with our American Jewish brothers and sisters during these challenging times. Flushing ranks number two in anti-Asian and Pacific Islander attacks in the City.
“Friends, as Queens Borough President, I am committed to working hand-to-hand with our diverse communities to build One Queens. “We all have a role to play in fighting hate.” “When we see victims as parents, as children, as real people, we will overcome this virus of hate together.”
People can sign up for Bystander Intervention Trainings by going to www.ihollaback.org/harassmenttraining.
To find hate crimes by neighborhood, go to the NYPD Hate Crimes Dashboard.
The Queens District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau 24/7 hotline is 718-286-7010.
NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes provides education, resources, and training on hate crimes to students, community members, law enforcement, government officials, and media. They can be contacted at 311.
The entire Hate Crimes Forum can be seen on the Queens Borough President Donovan Richards’ YouTube channel.
By David Schneier