Budget includes $2 million for Hate Crimes Task Force, and new anti-terrorism act

Photo by Darren McGee, Office of the Governor
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, march across the Brooklyn bridge on Jan. 5, 2020, to condemn hate crimes. A law in the new budget passed April 2 creates an A-1 felony punishment of life-in-prison without parole for murder that is motivated by hate and meant to cause mass casualties.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the FY 2021 Budget on April 3, passing the New York Hate Crime Anti-Terrorism Act and funding for the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force.

The state budget includes $2 million to support the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force, which was established by Gov. Cuomo in 2018, to address the rise of bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence throughout New York state. 

The allotted funding is to support the Task Force’s “ongoing work, and to bolster the monitoring of digital media which promote violence, intolerance, selling of illicit substances and terrorism,” the budget states. 

The most recent annual report of hate crimes in New York reported that incidents decreased more than 6 percent statewide since 2018, yet increased nine percent in New York City. The most common hate crimes are criminal mischief and simple assault. 

Earlier last month, the governor directed the Task Force to investigate an attack that targeted a 23-year-old Asian woman in Manhattan, which demonstrated the anti-Asian rhetoric motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The incident once again alerted the governor to the bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence.

“No one in this state should ever feel intimidated or threatened because of who they are or how they look,” Cuomo said in a statement after the incident. 

In addition to the ongoing work proceeded by the State Hate Crimes Task Force, the fiscal-year 2021 budget established the “New York Hate Crime Anti-Terrorism Act,” the first-in-nation “domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate” crime that can be punished by up to life in prison without parole. 

The law creates an A-1 felony for murder that is motivated by hate and meant to cause mass casualties. It is named after Rabbi Josef Neumann, who died on March 30, three months after a vicious attack on five people inside a home in Monsey, Rockland County, during a Hanukkah celebration.

“We do not tolerate any form of violence or hate in New York state,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “Those who seek to divide us and threaten our safety with terrorism and violence must be punished.”