Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg during a news conference at One Police...

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg during a news conference at One Police Plaza in February. Credit: Marcus Santos

Responding to a surge in reported hate and bias incidents, elected and law enforcement officials Monday in Manhattan announced proposed state legislation expanding the number of eligible hate crimes.

The bill would expand the number from 66 to 97 and add such charges as gang assault and graffiti that were not written into the original law passed two decades ago. This would enhance the potential punishment of those convicted of crimes added to the statute.

Among the charges that would be added are falsely reporting an incident to police, or swatting — behavior that might not have even been contemplated at that time. Officials Monday said a white supremacist made swatting calls repeatedly over the summer to disrupt services at Manhattan synagogues. 

“These crimes traumatize and inflict fear far beyond the individual,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, flanked by officials including bill sponsor state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan) and Assemb. Grace Lee (D-Manhattan). “They tear at the very fabric of our community, undermining mutual trust and respect that is vital to a diverse and democratic society.”

The announcement came at a time of acute unease over threats after the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks in Israel and a broader uptick of hate crimes, usually defined as those committed on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation or other categories of identity. 

In 2022 across the nation, there were 11,643 hate crimes reported, according to the FBI. That was the highest number reported in at least five years, though the FBI discourages ranking or comparisons because not all law enforcement agencies report data. 

In New York State last year, there were 947 hate cases, including 89 on Long Island, up from 790 statewide in 2021 and 55 on Long Island, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. Most of those reported cases targeted Jews, Blacks, Asians or LGBTQ people. 

According to federal data, there were 351 antisemitic hate crimes in the state last year, the most among any racial or religious group.

In New York City, hate crime spiked in October, according to Bragg’s office, with 101 reported hate crimes, up from September and from October last year, though according to the NYPD's CompStat, the year-to-date hate crime total — 400 — was down from 2022 by more than 25% by late October.

Lee said the constituents in her district, which includes Manhattan’s Chinatown, had lived through a painful increase in anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic. “We all know someone or have personally experienced an act of hate, been yelled at or spat or shoved,” she said. She included herself in that group, after someone threw a bottle and shouted at her.

In this climate, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in an interview with Newsday Monday, said he is pushing to get $1 billion from a federal nonprofit security grant program administered by FEMA to distribute to houses of worship as soon as January to pay for upgrades such as additional fences, surveillance cameras and security guards. 

Synagogues, mosques, even Sikh temples — sometimes targeted because they are mistaken for mosques — have been subject to a “rash of harassment,” said Schumer, the Senate majority leader. “When a congregant goes to a house of worship, they want to feel secure,” but many of these institutions, operating on tight budgets, can’t afford to pay for the security upgrades themselves, he said.

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Free LI State Park admission ... Rebuilding Montauk beach ... Brooklyn pizza tours Credit: Newsday

Juneteenth ... Stony Brook breast cancer research ... Free LI State Park admission ... Suffolk bus camera controversy

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