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Schneiderman issues bulletin to police, prosecutors on hate crimes

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a new conference at his Manhattan office on Sept. 23, 2016. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

ALBANY — State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Thursday that he has issued a bulletin to local law enforcement agencies to watch for and pursue hate crimes, citing a reported rise in incidents nationwide.

The bulletin provides guidance in identifying, investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against immigrants, religious minorities, ethnic and racial minorities, the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community, and “other vulnerable communities,” Schneiderman said.

“Anyone who is feeling scared or threatened at this time, that this office stands behind you and has your back,” Schneiderman said

The announcement doesn’t mention President-elect Donald Trump, but appears targeted at abuses from groups and individuals acting out after the win by the Republican, who has espoused hard lines on illegal immigration and Muslim immigrants. Several Muslim, minority and gay groups have reported a rise in incidents against them.

“This will be an important tool for law enforcement and district attorney offices across the state and will aid in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and bias crimes,” said Thomas Zugibe, president of the District Attorneys Association of New York.

In his bulletin, Schneiderman noted that hate crimes had declined for the third straight year in 2015. He said 503 incidents were reported in 2015, with 54.7 percent targeting people rather than property.

He said 26 percent of the crimes were anti-gay, 24 percent were against Jewish people, and 15 percent were aimed at African-Americans. Most of the crimes — 56 percent — resulted in aggravated harassment charges, with 20 percent prompting assault charges.

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