There has been a 35% increase in hate crimes this year, officials said on Monday.
The statistic came just hours after a Muslim uniformed off-duty city transit worker was pushed down the stairs and called a “terrorist,” the third such attack on a Muslim woman in the last few days.
The station agent was on her way to work on Monday when she got off the No. 7 train and was attacked at Grand Central Terminal at about 6:20 a.m., Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. The suspect called her a “terrorist” and pushed her down the stairs, injuring her ankle and knee, Cuomo said.
“These acts of hate will be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and those responsible will be held accountable,” Cuomo said in a statement.
TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said in a statement that “real New Yorkers” don’t attack based on race.
“Only ignorant, racist hate-filled fools do that,” he said. “They don’t realize that our diversity is our strength and is what makes New Yorkers the greatest. We call for an increased police presence in the transit system to ensure the safety of all workers and riders.”
Officer Aml Elsokary, who was threatened in Bay Ridge over the weekend while she was with her 16-year-old son, said on Monday during a news conference that she’s proud to help everyone, no matter their religion or faith.
“I’m born and raised here and I’m here to protect you,” said Elsokary, a Muslim who has been with the department for 11 years. “And I know that my department and my city is here to protect me.”
On Saturday, Bay Ridge resident Christopher Nelson, 36, allegedly called Elsokary an “ISIS [expletive]” and threatened to cut her throat. Nelson was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Monday on the top count of second-degree menacing as a hate crime, which is a felony, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. He was held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Since election day, there have been 43 recorded incidents of hate crimes in the city, said Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. So far this year, he said, police have made 45% more arrests in those types of cases compared to 2015.
Most of the incidents this year are anti-Semitic attacks, Boyce said, with several anti-Muslim, anti-White and anti-sexual orientation related attacks.
“We’re seeing across the board an increase right now,” he said.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill warned anyone who is thinking about committing a hate crime: “rest assured that you will be identified and you will be arrested and you will be charged accordingly. There’s no place for that in New York City.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said he was “sick to my stomach” when he first heard about what happened to Elsokary.
“You can’t have a candidate for president single out groups of Americans negatively and not have some ramifications,” de Blasio said. “It’s not a surprise. There’s been a huge uptick in hate crimes, it’s very troubling ... But it’s obviously connected to the election and it’s dangerous.”
De Blasio said President-elect Donald Trump “needs to keep” speaking out against hate crimes.
“Do I blame Donald Trump for using hate speech during his campaign? Absolutely,” he said. “We now need to work with him and he has a chance to make it better by amending his comments and being a force of reconciliation. I think he has to do more of that.”
There has been a slew of incidents in the last few days, including a No. 1 train that was vandalized with multiple swastikas on Saturday, Cuomo said.
And on Thursday, three apparently drunk men tried to rip off the hijab of an 18-year-old woman and shouted Trump’s name at her as she waited for and then boarded a northbound No. 6 train at 23rd Street.