Video of the press conference available here
New York, NY – Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer today outlined a robust agenda to combat the rise in hate crimes and strengthen the City’s proactive response to hate by establishing a new Hate Crime Hotspot Initiative to monitor and prevent violent incidence as well as a NYC Hate Crime Survivor Fund to connect impacted New Yorkers with culturally and linguistically competent supports.
Stringer’s agenda further outlines investments in community-based safety approaches, and upstander training, as well as improving the City’s reporting and data-tracking capacities. The new plan comes just days after Stringer released proposals to refocus on serious crime and address the growing mental health crisis fueling public safety concerns.
Comptroller Scott Stringer said: “Hate never has and never will have a home in New York City. The surge in hate and violence is not something other New Yorkers can ignore and leave to our neighbors — this is an emergency that demands a focused citywide response. That means offering more support to survivors and communities along with implementing forward-looking community safety and education measures to prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place. As a Jewish New Yorker, I know how it feels when your community is under attack, and as mayor, I will ensure that this city never abandons any of our communities in their time of need. While our city is safer than it’s ever been, four years of hateful language and policy from Washington, means we cannot wish away the recent spate of violence—we must tackle it head-on with thoughtful and effective measures to build up our communities, invest in education and understanding, and bring New Yorkers across the five boroughs together to say loudly and clearly, in one united voice, that hate is not welcome here.”
Stringer’s plan to bolster the City’s response to hate-based violence and support targeted communities focuses on six key priorities:
Take a targeted approach to hate crimes with a new Hate Crimes Hotspot Initiative by breaking through NYPD bureaucracy at headquarters and investing in hot-spots and public spaces to discourage violence. Hatecrimes tend to cluster in a small number of neighborhoods, blocks, plazas, and subway stations, according to the NYPD Hate Crimes Dashboard. The City must respond accordingly, with strategic engagement in vulnerable corridors and institutions, as well as investing in more lighting and benches and encouraging foot traffic in these areas.
Moreover, the NYPD has become far too centralized and bloated in recent years, creating a specialized unit to handle every emergent problem when most issues are highly localized and overlap. Moving forward, resources should be shifted away from One Police Plaza to local communities and precincts who are better positioned to handle issues like hate crimes and focus resources on select religious institutions, subway stops, business corridors, and other hot spots where hate crimes have clustered.
While arrests, summonses, and stops have fallen by more than 80 percent over the last decade, NYPD headcount and overtime grew during this period. This is not a department that needs more resources, it is one that needs to be better managed – responding to the demands and needs of communities and to violent crime, not answering endless 311 calls or engaging in work better suited for social, mental health, medical, housing, and community services.
Establish a Hate Crimes Survivor Fund managed through the Commission on Human Rights to support hate crime survivors, as well as impacted businesses and institutions, and connect impacted New Yorkers to long-term, culturally competent services following hate incidents. Emergency relief funds would be distributed via the Commission and would be connected with additional services including access to culturally and linguistically competent healthcare, emergency housing, trauma-informed counseling, and peer support.
Fund and support Community Ambassador programs to assist locals in need, enliven and oversee public spaces, and help impacted small businesses. The Community Ambassador model brings local residents and community groups together to provide a visible presence in impacted neighborhoods, safety escorts for vulnerable residents, information and referrals for city services, and a bridge for cultural and language gaps. Community Ambassadors are trained in first aid and de-escalation techniques and would also report hazards, hateful graffiti, and maintenance issues to City agencies and local nonprofits. In Oakland, California, civilian-led foot “strolls” through Chinatown have been organized by local AAPI community organizations, whereby ambassadors walk with elderly neighbors to get groceries, check-in with shopkeepers, religious institutions, and residents, and are able to strengthen community networks in times of uncertainty. Similar community-led programs can and should be supported in New York City.The Community Ambassadors programs would also work with local law enforcement to calibrate hate crimes responses to community sensitivities, coordinating proactive police presence in high crime hot spots to ensure accountability and safety.
Help organizations providing culturally and linguistically competent “upstander” intervention training and other educational programs to build capacity and reach more New Yorkers. Scott will also mandate upstander intervention training for all City employees and bolster the public education curriculum to tackle issues of hate, violence, xenophobia, and racism and provide culturally responsive education. Hate crimes are not simply isolated incidents. They metastasize and cascade, creating lasting fear within the community — a status that can be reinforced by increased police presence. To combat these effects, impacted communities — and the City as a whole — must be empowered, protected, and educated.To this end, Scott will fund and build capacity at community-led organizations that are providing in-language upstander intervention training, helping these in-demand, under-resourced, and over-extended organizations reach more New Yorkers with this crucial training. Scott will also ensure that all New York City employees take upstander intervention training, led by organizations from impacted communities.Additionally, Scott will fund a broad public education campaign and bolster the K-12 curriculum to tackle issues of hate, violence, xenophobia, and racism, offer avenues for discussion and mediation, provide culturally responsive education, and reassert our core New York City values of openness, diversity, and understanding.
Make it easier to report hate incidents by ensuring comprehensive language access for New Yorkers in need of reporting hate crimes, create an online portal for reporting and tracking hate crimes, and better track and disaggregate hate crimes data. Scott will fully fund language access initiatives to ensure that New Yorkers in need of help are able to receive it in their preferred or native language, particularly when it comes to reporting hate crimes — whether they report to the Mayor’s Office, 311, emergency services, or City-funded nonprofit providers.One such step would be funding a community legal interpretive bank and language services worker-owned cooperatives for languages of limited diffusion – including indigenous languages – as proposed by the New York Immigration Coalition, African Community Together, Asian American Federation and MASA. For a variety of reasons, New Yorkers who experience hate and harm can be hesitant to report such incidents to law enforcement. To ensure that New Yorkers have access to lower-barrier reporting, as Mayor, Scott will create an online portal for reporting and tracking hate crimes, property crimes, and other infractions as well as support community-based organizations already providing reporting services. In addition to lowering the burden to reporting and offering improved language access, online channels will make it easier to distribute information regarding victim support services and to follow-up with those who have been victimized. Scott will further ensure greater data disaggregation and transparency in hate crimes reporting.
Overhaul the City’s mental health responses and services. Just as the recent rise in hate crimes must serve as a call to action to root out racism in our city, it must also inspire us to overhaul mental health response and services. Some perpetrators of hate crimes have suffered from mental health issues and are in need of support in order to prevent them from harming themselves and others. As Mayor, Scott will ensure that Crisis Intervention Teams are dispatched to help those with mental health issues and appropriately de-escalate the situation. He will also ensure that we are not replacing one revolving door (e.g. arrests and jails) with another (e.g. ambulances and emergency rooms), but instead immediately connecting those in need to respite centers, drop-in centers, supportive housing and other short-, medium-, and long-term services.To further address the lack of culturally competent and linguistically sensitive mental health support across the city — but particularly for AAPI New Yorkers who are also often less familiar with mental health resources to begin with — Scott will take measures to invest in a training and recruitment pipeline to increase AAPI representation on Crisis Intervention Teams and in social services — as well as among teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, and administrators.
Scott Stringer was born and raised in Washington Heights. He attended P.S. 152 on Nagle Avenue and I.S. 52 on Academy Street. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, a CUNY school.
Stringer was elected City Comptroller in 2013. Prior to serving as Comptroller, he was Manhattan Borough President from 2006 to 2013 and represented the Upper West Side in the New York State Assembly from 1992 to 2005. He and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, live in Manhattan with their two children, Max and Miles.