On Sunday, March 19, Council Member Linda Lee hosted a forum in Little Neck, in partnership with Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assembly Member Ed Braunstein, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to discuss the effects of hate, extremism, and anti-Semitism on young people and the community. This event was made possible through collaboration and funding from the Office of New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.

“New York City has witnessed a devastating rise in violence rooted in racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism,” said Council Member Linda Lee, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions. “These sentiments have no place anywhere in our City - let alone Queens, where our great diversity of faith and culture gives us the moniker of the ‘World’s Borough.’ I believe that the best policies are curated from the ground up, so I am proud to work collaboratively with experts and community members to create initiatives that will keep our neighborhoods safe.”

“The Council has not sat back in the face of increased hate,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Instead, we have been a leader in taking proactive steps to address hate within our communities. The Council has allocated funding to invest in local programs like Sunday’s hate crime prevention community forum.”

The event included presentations from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Associate Director of Research, Emily Thompson, who provided an in-depth analysis of Digital Terrorism and Hate across social media online, how seeing hate and propaganda online can affect the minds of young people, and measures to prevent this harm from occurring. This presentation was followed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director of Research, Rich Eaton, who detailed trends in hate crime reporting across law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. The information was sorted by demographic according to data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Following the directors, Jeff Schoep, a consultant for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, shared his story about his entry and exit from the life of extremism, and the ways he is working to combat bigotry and hate across the country. Schoep was the former leader of the National Socialist Movement, which was once the largest and most active Neo-Nazi group in the United States. He now leads Beyond Barriers, a nonprofit dedicated to countering violent extremism and helping others change their lives.

The forum concluded with a Q&A between the Simon Wiesenthal Center and community members in attendance.