Hochul signs bills targeting hatred and intolerance

Zack Fink

Originally published in Spectrum News NY1

Following some high-profile instances of threats and violence, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday new education initiatives for people convicted of committing hate crimes.

With news that two individuals were arrested at Penn Station last week for an alleged plot to carry out violent attacks against the Jewish community, and a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado, Hochul said New York is standing up to hatred and intolerance.

“We have the power as individuals, as a government, as society to pull back and say no more,” Hochul said. “And never forget that this is our city, this is our state and today we reclaim both from the haters, the bigots, the white supremacists. It starts right here, right now.”

The governor signed two pieces of legislation that were passed earlier this year. The first would make it mandatory for those convicted of a hate crime in New York State to undergo sensitivity training.

The second would establish educational opportunities to teach about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“This is what we are trying to do,” Hochul said. “Capture the hearts and minds before people are radicalized on social media and go down a different path. This is how we can work together to keep our communities safe from hatred and violence.”

State Sen. Anna Kaplan was the lead sponsor of one of the bills. She fled her native country of Iran under threat of persecution.

“To me, as a Jewish political refugee, this is extremely personal. I fled a country of extremism. I saw firsthand how extremism took over our communities, and then over our country,” Kaplan said.

Hochul said the education campaign is aimed at eventually calling a unity summit to bring together leaders on the issue of tolerance and understanding. No word yet on when that will take place.