Hate crimes in New York City have skyrocketed, especially against Jews, in the last three months, and police officials are blaming it on the vitriolic rhetoric of the presidential campaign.
“Based on the timing and the extraordinary increase we’ve been seeing, not only in New York but around the nation, you have to conclude that the presidential campaign was the major factor,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told Bloomberg.
Since the election that put Donald Trump in the White House, the number of hate-crime complaints has jumped 42 percent from the same period last year, up to 143 incidents, according to police department statistics. Of those, 72 percent targeted Jews, compared with 39 percent the previous year, Bloomberg reported.
Incidents included “terroristic threats,” harassment and criminal mischief. Earlier this month, swastikas were drawn in fresh snow on several cars parked in the largely Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn.
Hate crimes have spiked as well across the nation and New York state. The Southern Poverty Law Center has tallied more than 700 hate incidents nationally since the election. There have been at least 69 bomb threats called into 55 Jewish community centers across the country from Jan. 1 to Feb. 24, and vandals caused extensive damage at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis this week. When the president finally spoke out Tuesday to condemn anti-Semitic attacks, some Jewish leaders blasted it as too little and too late.
Hate complaints in New York state typically average about 16 a month and were on the decline last year. Since the election, the numbers have doubled, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In response to the hate-crime increase largely against Jews, Muslims and the LGBT community in New York, Cuomo has announced that the state will spend $25 million on extra security, including training, personnel and surveillance technology, at schools and day care centers at risk, especially those associated with religions. The state is also launching a Hate Crimes Text Line for easy reporting.
“Any acts of bias or discrimination will be met with the full force of the law,” Cuomo vowed.
Davis didn’t single out Trump’s campaign for blame, noting that “heated” rhetoric existed on “both sides,” but it was Trump who targeted Muslims, branded many Mexican immigrants “rapists” and characterized African-American communities as hellholes in his speeches. The Ku Klux Klan expressed its support for his campaign.
Shortly after Trump won the election, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill noticed a sharp increase in hate complaints.
“I have no scientific evidence as to why, but you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in the country over the last year or so, and the rhetoric has increased, and I think that might have something to do with it,” he told a local radio station.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, was not quite so circumspect. “The horrible, hateful rhetoric that was used in this election by candidate Trump and by a lot of his supporters directly connects to an increase since the election in anti-Semitic incidents, anti-Muslim incidents and anti-LGBT incidents,” he said at a news conference last week.