‘Hate is learned:’ New de Blasio official aims to tackle bias crimes
She wants to put the hurt on hate.
Mayor de Blasio announced Deborah Lauter as head of the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes on Tuesday.
She’s tasked with working with city agencies, including the NYPD and the Human Rights Commission, to stop hate crimes before they happen.
“Hate does not start with graffiti spray paint cans, it doesn’t start with rocks, it doesn’t start with weapons,” she said at a news conference at City Hall. “It starts with fundamental stereotyping, prejudice, extremist ideology, fear of the other.
“The good news is that hate is ... learned. It’s something that can be unlearned.”
She and a staff of five or six will work with city agencies and community-based organizations to prevent hate crimes and encourage members of minority communities to report them.
Lauter — who comes to the administration from the Anti-Defamation League, where she was a senior vice president — shied away from criticizing President Trump, who has come under fire for racist comments throughout his term.
Asked whether Trump caused the spike in hate crimes in New York City and the rest of the country, she said, “Words have consequences.
“We’re living through a very polarizing time right now, and that’s why ... I say it’s incredibly important that our mayor speaks out against these crimes.”
Neither de Blasio nor anyone from the NYPD was at Tuesday’s news conference. Lauter said she is yet to meet with Hizzoner, who has come under criticism for frequent trips out of town during his long-shot presidential campaign.
Lauter, who is Jewish, said she was the victim of a hate crime when she worked in Atlanta, where someone put pork and shellfish products in her mailbox in the 1990s.
“I know there’s been frustration with some people saying, ‘What’s the delay? What’s the delay?’ ” said Lauter. “But things do take a little bit of time. You need to post jobs, you need to vet applicants, you need to interview.
“I think it’s actually gone incredibly swiftly.”
As of Aug. 25, hate crimes had increased more than 40% in the city compared with the corresponding time frame last year, according to NYPD stats. There was a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents in particular — from 88 in the first eight months of 2018 to 145 this year.
“With Deborah leading our Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes we’ll be able to take a closer look at the root cause of hate and weed it out of our society,” de BLasio said in a statement.