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Hochul signs bills to educate hate crime convicts and ‘de-radicalize’ people

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Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
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Gov. Kathy Hochul speaking Tuesday at the University at Buffalo.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul decried the rise in violent domestic terrorism in New York and the nation today, and signed two bills into law that she says will takes steps toward trying to prevent it.

Hochul listed some recent disturbing events, including two armed men in New York’s Penn station who threatened a Jewish synagogue before their arrest, and the mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket by a man targeting African American shoppers who killed 10 people.

“Domestic violent extremism is the greatest threat to homeland security,” the governor said, which threatens the rights of New Yorkers to feel a sense of security as they go about their daily lives, no matter who they are.

“No Asian woman of any age coming home from work should ever worry about where she stands on a subway platform,” Hochul said, referring to the killing of Michelle Go in January. “No young Jewish boy should have to look over his shoulder as he’s walking to a Yeshiva.”

Hochul says no Trans man or woman should ever have to fear for their safety walking down the street, and no Black New Yorkers should ever fear becoming a “target” in a grocery story.

Hochul signed two bills. One requires people who are convicted of a hate crime to undergo mandatory training in prevention and education. Another establishes a statewide education campaign, carried out by the state’s Division of Human Rights, to promote acceptance, inclusion and tolerance of diversity in New York, that Hochul says is aimed to “de-radicalize” people.

State Sen. Anna Kaplan, an Iranian woman of Jewish descent who came to the US fleeing anti-Semitic violence during that country’s Islamic Revolution, is the sponsor of that bill. She says the issue is “personal.”

“I saw firsthand how extremism took over our communities, and then over our country,” Kaplan said. “And we can never let that happen here in our state.”

In addition, Hochul says $50 million in funding is available to nonprofits who want to launch anti-hate programs. She estimates as many as 1,000 new programs could be created.

The New York State Police have already stepped up protection for communities at risk of hate crimes.

Lastly, Hochul says she's planning a “unity summit” in the near future with community leaders, to try to find ways to combat hate and discrimination.

"New York belongs to the good, not those with hate in their hearts,” Hochul said.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.