NEW YORK CITY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced that he was ordering the New York State Police to create a special unit to investigate the growing number of hate crimes across the state.
Hate crimes in New York City alone jumped 30 percent in 2016, according to the NYPD, and incidents of hate crimes have occurred in other areas across the state, Cuomo said.
In response, the governor announced to the congregation at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem that a new state hate crimes unit would track such incidents, large and small.
"New York State will not allow the law to be violated, period," Cuomo said. "Today I'm directing the Division of State Police and the Division of Human Rights to put together a special team of trained professionals that will investigate these hate crime incidents all across the state. The major ones, the minor ones, the infractions. And we will prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, the perpetrators of any of this ugliness and divisiveness. Because it's not happening in this state."
Cuomo addressed the "ugly political discourse" from the 2016 election, which he said did not end on election day.
"In many ways it's gotten worse. It's deepened into a social crisis that challenges our very identity, as a state and as a nation and as a people," Cuomo said. "It's gone beyond politics. It questions our basic American character: Who we are and what we believe."
The governor also said the state would form a public-private legal defense fund for immigrants, propose a new human rights law in Albany to protect children in every school, and send letters to college students across the state explaining their rights, responsibilities and protections under the law.
In addition to the annual increase, the number of hate crimes since the election is also on the rise. In Brooklyn, a playground named after former Beastie Boys rapper Adam Yauch, who is Jewish, was defaced with a swastika and the words "Go Trump," according to Park Slope City Councilman Brad Lander.
Cuomo urged all New Yorkers to set a good example for the rest of the country, by standing up for the rights of immigrants, people of color, the LGBT community, and all marginalized people.
"New York still knows what America is supposed to be," Cuomo said. "And we must stand up and we must shout it from the mountaintops."
See Cuomo's full remarks here: