NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed the election of President Trump for a 340 percent jump in reports of hate crimes on the subway this year.
"There's no question this sudden increase in bias incidents is directly related to the hateful rhetoric we heard during the election season," de Blasio told reporters in Downtown Brooklyn Tuesday. "We're trying to do everything we can to show that those who commit acts of hate will suffer the consequences."
As of Feb. 28, there were 22 hate crimes reported on city subways, in contrast to just five over the same period last year, according to police.
The mayor didn't say how many arrests had been made in this recent spate of hate crimes, and the NYPD didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.
The jump in bias crimes follows a citywide trend.
As of Feb. 26, police had recorded a 55 percent increase in hate crimes across the five boroughs, many of which were anti-Semitic in nature, the NYPD said.
"Crimes such as these, it doesn't matter if it's graffiti or violence, if the swastika is eight feet or eight inches, they strike to the core of what we object to and who we are not as Americans," said the NYPD's Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox at an MTA board meeting Monday.
Of the 22 reported hate crimes in city subways through the end of February, 15 of them were criminal mischief cases in which offenders had scribbled hateful graffiti. The vandalism often includes swastikas, Fox said, like in one incident in early-February when straphangers on the 1 train reportedly banded together to scrub off several of the symbols.
Seven of the hate crimes involved racial or ethnically biased verbal harassment or physical fights, noted Fox, who didn't elaborate on the individual cases.
Half of the year's hate crimes took place Manhattan, eight happened in Brooklyn, one took place in The Bronx and two occurred in Queens, Fox added.
He encouraged straphangers to continue to document and report hate crimes in subways, saying that despite the increase, investigators believe the offenders weren't part of some organized group.
"These are individuals that are tormented at the moment, that feel the need to lash out like this," Fox said. "This is not a group, there's no gang, this is not a movement."
Overall subway crime was down slightly this year — with 390 as of the end of February, seven fewer than the same period last year.
Despite the decline, there were slight increases in grand larceny and felony assaults, according to Fox.