Mayor de Blasio scrambles to open hate crime prevention office
Mayor de Blasio is scrambling to open an office to prevent hate crimes after City Council members called him out for apparently dragging his heels.
The de Blasio administration said the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will open later this week, about two months after Hizzoner said in June it would be up and running “this summer.”
The move comes as hate crimes have spiked in NYC — and amid accusations the mayor has ignored city business while frequently traveling out of state for his long-shot presidential bid.
“I think we were surprised that it didn’t happen more quickly considering the urgency of addressing this crisis,” Councilman Mark Levine (D-Upper Manhattan) told the Daily News.
While the de Blasio administration promised the office will open on an unspecified day this week, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice was unable Sunday to provide basic details, including who will head the office and how many staffers it will have.
“He always speaks out against hate so I know that he means well,” Brooklyn Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn) told The News. “But when you’re running a presidential campaign, you need to be on top of what’s going on within your administration."
“The buck stops with the mayor,” added Deutsch, who chairs the Council’s Jewish Caucus and sponsored legislation creating the new office along with Levine.
Deutsch publicly called out the mayor on the neglected office last week, as the city saw two apparent anti-Semtic attacks and after, Deutsch says, the administration had ignored his emails on the matter.
As of Aug. 25, hate crimes had increased more than 40% compared with the same 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.
When you see so many incidents of hate crimes happening, you need to tackle it head on,” said Deutsch.
The mayor previously said the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will be tasked with coordinating city agencies’ responses to hate crimes and developing community-based strategies to prevent them in the first place.
The office will also send educators to communities to teach about hate crimes, Deutsch said.
“New York City wholeheartedly rejects any form of hatred or bigotry,” de Blasio spokeswoman Avery Cohen said in a statement dated Friday. “We’ll be opening our Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes next week to ensure New Yorkers across all five boroughs feel supported, safe, and respected.”