Dec. 31 (UPI) — In the wake of five people stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration in New York, Sen. Chuck Schumer called for increased federal support to protect religious communities and organizations against hate crimes.
Schumer announced Monday a two-prong plan to strengthen the federal government’s strategy against hate crimes consisting of a significant increase in security grants for not-for-profit organizations and support for federal programs that prosecute such crimes.
“We rededicate ourselves tonight and on into the future to the work of stamping out hatred and anti-Semitism and bigotry in our times,” Schumer told a crowd Monday at the Jewish Community Center Rockland. “Anti-Semitism grows and prospers when people of goodwill are silent. We will not be silent.”
His plan calls for quadrupling the $90 million in funding to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides funding to improve the security of organizations at risk of terror attacks, including synagogues, churches, mosques, schools and other faith centers, and for increasing the $5 million the Department of Justice provides to local and state officials to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
“These dollars prevent tragedies and save lives, so while it is good news that as part of the federal budget deal we were able to secure an increase in these funds, we need to do it again because the state of crisis demands it,” he said in a statement.
Grafton Thomas has been charged with five state counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary as well as additional hate crime charges in connection to an attack at the home of a Hasidic Jewish rabbi late Saturday. However, Schumer said that is just the most recent attack against religious groups and should be a cause for worry.
“What should alarm each and every American across this country is that the Hanukkah attack is part of a cascade of violence and intolerance as the state of hate in America has risen to a boiling point that demands a much stronger federal response, because we are in a crisis,” he said.
The announcement follows moves by officials to increase protection and to stamp out anti-Semitism.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday an increase in New York Police Department resources in Jewish neighborhoods and the creation of a new multi-ethnic neighborhood safety coalition that will identify and address issues that drive hate crimes in their communities.
“Fearing the next act of terror will not become the new normal for our Jewish neighbors,” de Blasio said. “In New York City, diversity is our strength and we respect the traditions of all who call New York City home. Intolerance will never take hold here.”