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Gov. Cuomo announces plan to counter spike in anti-Semitic violence

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 that he would counter a spike in post-election anti-Semitic violence with a text-message tip line to report hate crimes, a $5,000 reward for a perpetrator's conviction and a proposal for $25 million to secure religious schools and day care centers. (Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday that he would counter a spike in postelection anti-Semitic violence with a text-message tip line to report hate crimes, a $5,000 reward for a perpetrator’s conviction and a proposal for $25 million to secure religious schools and day care centers.

Police figures cited by Cuomo show that the number of hate crimes more than doubled after Donald Trump’s victory — from about 16 per month — after being on the decline the rest of the year.

“It’s undeniable but that the numbers increased in November, December, January. It’s undeniable but that there was an election that happened in November, right? Those are facts that are connected,” Cuomo said at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, where he’d convened a closed-door meeting with about 50 Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders.

The violence and threats against Jews and other minority groups in New York — which has more Jews than any other place outside Israel — are “shocking,” “revolting” and “demand a response,” Cuomo said.

“We’ve seen swastikas on playground equipment in Brooklyn Heights. We’ve seen it in a Little League dugout in Wellsville, which is in upstate New York. We’ve seen it on subway cars. We’ve seen KKK leaflets on car windshields in Patchogue on Long Island,” Cuomo said.

The text-message tip line, 81336, complements an anti-bias hotline Cuomo announced in the weeks after Trump’s election, 888-392-3644, which has received 3,175 calls since its inception.

Cuomo said he’d be asking the legislature for the $25 million for religious schools and day care centers that would fund tactics like training, cameras, better doors, improved lighting and guards.

The $5,000 reward would go to tipsters whose information leads to “the capture and conviction of a perpetrator of a hate crime.”

Seated to the governor’s right at a news conference on the measures was a Queens imam named Shamsi Ali, who told the BBC in 2013 that gay people should be celibate, undergo a sex-change operation or seek therapy. He cited what he was centuries-old Muslim scholarship that homosexuality is a genetic mistake.

On Thursday, Ali said he didn’t recall those remarks but added: “this is New York ... everybody has the right to choose in any responsible way of choosing their lifestyle.”

Cuomo’s meeting came days after President Trump called the increase of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes “painful” and “horrible,” his first public reaction after being criticized for being slow to condemn the threats.

Asked whether President Trump has done enough to counter anti-Semitism, Cuomo said, “I’m not here to judge anyone.”

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