Stopping hate is a tricky business. It is a monster that lies in all of us. The majority is able to police those things within themselves that feed hate so it can be starved out. The few who’ve allowed their hate to have free rein are behind a surge of incidents that have raised alarm. During the past year, the North Brooklyn community has seen a remarkable rise of anti-Semitic acts from hate symbols tagged on sidewalks and walls to acts of violence.
“Hate has no place in our communities, and in New York City, we watch out for our neighbors. Our new Neighborhood Safety Coalitions will help communities address the root causes of hate and deter acts of violence before they occur.”
— Mayor Bill de Blasio
Just about a year ago evidence of hate began to appear on postal stickers that were affixed around north Greenpoint. The 94th Precinct instructed locals to notify the precinct when they spotted one of these stickers and not remove them. Some neighbors with the best of intentions had done what they could to remove some stickers, but by doing so they removed evidence that could help to locate the perpetrator. On April 5 officers of the 94th Precinct caught Glenn Murto, a 28-year-old Greenpoint resident, in the act and charged him with seven counts of felony hate crimes. Since then there have been random physical assaults and more hate scrawled on public and private property. Recently, on December 22, 2019, two men were caught on video painting a swastika on the Acapulco restaurant. As of this writing, there has been no news of an arrest.
“The battle against hate crimes is multi-faceted, necessitating an “all hands on deck approach.”
— Rabbi David Niederman
Is it the time of year? As of January 2, 2020 the NYPD have reported 13 anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city since the first full day of Hanukkah on December 23. Three months prior, in September 2019, the NYPD reported anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City were up 63% compared to 2018.
Is it the Age of Trump? In November 2019 the release of the FBI’s annual report showed personal attacks motivated by bias or prejudice reached a sixteen-year high for 2018. Trump stickers placed next to acts of general vandalism have been noticed in Greenpoint.
Whatever the theories, action plays a swifter role in preventing and ceasing hate. On January 24, Mayor de Blasio announced the formation of three Neighborhood Safety Coalitions (NSCs) in Brooklyn neighborhoods that have experienced recent disturbing incidents against Jewish community members. Williamsburg, Crown Heights, and Borough Park are the three neighborhoods.
“Hate has no place in our communities, and in New York City, we watch out for our neighbors,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our new Neighborhood Safety Coalitions will help communities address the root causes of hate and deter acts of violence before they occur.”
Each coalition will determine the programming best suited for their neighborhood. Neighborhood walks and corner watches led by diverse groups of NSC members that reinforce a message of unity and common purpose; neighborhood anti-bias workshops and community-building events; working with local schools to promote parent engagement and workshops; and pop-up tents to encourage neighbors to gather and meet each other are some examples of programs that may be implemented.
“Rooting out intolerance and hate takes a comprehensive effort that combines enforcement, education, dialogue and unity,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “That’s why I commend the Mayor and his Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes for creating Neighborhood Safety Coalitions that will build on Brooklyn’s diversity to combat bias and promote tolerance.”
“The battle against hate crimes is multi-faceted, necessitating an “all hands on deck approach”. The first hands to come together need to be all segments of the local community where these attacks are happening. The NSC coupled with all levels of government dedicating the appropriate resources will enable us to stabilize the crisis of hate crimes that keeps sinking into our streets. We are grateful to the Mayor for his stewardship of the NSC and the city’s response to anti-Semitic hate crimes,” said Rabbi David Niederman, President of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn
“We are horrified by the recent series of attacks on Jewish people and continuing anti-Semitic activities which encourage hate. We stand together as a community to stop these attacks and the hate language which corrodes community wellbeing,” said Michael Rochford, Executive Director of St. Nicks Alliance.
The ultimate vanquisher of hate is its opposite, love. On January 5, a march over the Brooklyn Bridge was a demonstration of multicultural and multifaith solidarity. Over twenty-five thousand marchers were joined by elected officials and community leaders in chanting, “No Hate, No Fear.” It is hoped that the recent initiatives will strengthen the love of community and mutual kindness will win over cruelty.
The MTA launched their “Hate Has No Place in Our Transportation System” campaign in late January. The NYPD Transit Bureau had seen a 42% increase in hate crimes in 2019 over those investigated in 2018. The campaign encourages reporting “bias-motivated threats, harassment, discrimination, or graffiti” by phone: 212-878-1000 or email/text: firstname.lastname@example.org. To report a crime while in progress call 911 or inform a police officer or MTA staff.
Governor Cuomo has also established a telephone hotline and text line New Yorkers should call if they experience bias or discrimination. The phone number is 1-877-NO-HATE-NY and the hotline is open.