City’s Hate Crime Prevention Czar Gives Update


The executive director of the city’s newest agency, the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC) came to a Brooklyn town hall last night at Brown Memorial Baptist Church, 484 Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill to give an update on the growing crime trend.

It has been a month since Mayor De Blasio launched the OPHC, in an effort to counter the rise in hate crimes in New York City and he appointed Deborah Lauter as the executive director.

Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC) Executive Director Deborah Lauter.

Lauter told the several dozen attendees at the town hall that since January of 2019, hate crimes have been up by 29%. There have been 342 hate crimes reported in the city, compared to 265 from last year which has been described as a “crisis situation” by Lauter.

Of those numbers 59% have been anti-Jewish incidents, most of which have taken place in the Brooklyn area, with anti-LGBT and anti-black crimes accounting for 12% and 9% respectively.

Lauter pointed out that hate crimes tend to be underreported due to the tenuous relationship between many members of the targeted communities and law enforcement. Thereby making the issue even more pronounced than the current numbers indicate.

“When a hate crime happens it’s absolutely essential that elected officials, community leaders, religious leaders stand up and make a statement denouncing it. It helps the victims but it sends a message that we will not tolerate these crimes in our communities,” said Lauter.

“My vision for this office is that we’re going to deal with education, we’re gonna deal with law enforcement, and we’re going to deal with community relations,” she added.

Justin Brannan
City Council Member Justin Brannan

Lauter’s words came as City Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst) and fellow electeds representing Bay Ridge including U.S. Rep. Max Rose, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus yesterday formally asked the New York City Police Departmnetment (NYPD) Hate Crime Task Force to look into the incident this past Saturday at TJ Maxx in Bay Ridge.

In a letter to NYPD Deputy Inspector Mark Molinari, the commanding officer of the Hate Crime Task Force, the lawmakers wrote it is their understanding, “that on Saturday two of our Muslim constituents were verbally harassed and physically assaulted while shopping for gifts for their children, during which the perpetrator told the constituents to ‘go back to their country.’

“The perpetrator can be seen on tape hitting the constituent and further threatening him. The altercation, which took place in a local store, was reportedly recorded on security camera, and multiple witnesses were present. At minimum, this warrants an investigation by the Task Force, if not the charge of a hate crime, due to assault or menacing based on religion or perceived national origin,” they wrote.

“Bay Ridge is a diverse community where residents of all different faiths, races, and backgrounds live together peacefully. When an incident like this goes unpunished, it threatens the very fabric of this community and makes our constituents feel less safe in their own neighborhood. Bay Ridge is not a place where one can openly assault another person out of bigotry and expect to avoid consequences. That is contrary to the values and the spirit of this community. Furthermore, as a neighborhood which is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the country, it is imperative that incidents of this kind be responded to swiftly and seriously,” the lawmakers added.