New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a pair of anti-bias bills on Tuesday. The legislation comes in the wake of the horrific mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well as several incidents of bias-related crimes in New York City.
“This is our defining moment, New Yorkers,” Hochel said at a news conference in Midtown Manhattan. “Every one of us has a role to play. From this day forward, ask yourself: Did I do something to help spread the love that should be part of who we are as New Yorkers?”
The new laws establish a statewide inclusion campaign and require people convicted of hate crimes to undergo mandatory hate crime prevention training. Hochul also announced the launch of regional community listening sessions in New York and an additional $50 million in nonprofit grants distributed through the state’s Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program.
According to NYPD data, reports of hate crimes in the city are up 16 percent this year. The same night as a shooter opened fire at Club Q in Colorado Springs, killing five people, a man was caught on security cameras throwing a brick at the window of a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen. On Tuesday, police arrested 34-year-old Sean Kuilan in connection with a string of attacks on the bar. New York police also arrested two armed men on Friday who were reportedly planning an attack on a synagogue.
Both Hochul and acting State Police Superintendent Steven Nigrelli pointed to hateful rhetoric on social media as a contributing factor for the rise in hate crimes. According to the New York Daily News, Hochul pleaded for congressional and court action targeting social media sites and called on New Yorkers to combat bigotry.
“Anybody who raises a hand or causes harm to a single New Yorker, you’re picking a fight with 20 million others,” she said. “Starting with your governor.”