New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed two bills into law Tuesday that will expand hate crime education and training in the state, saying there is a "rising tide of hate" across the country and violence prevention is the state's "highest priority."
The first bill will require people convicted of hate crimes to undergo training on hate crime prevention and education as part of their sentence. The training is currently optional but not a requirement. The court or local agencies must authorize the programs, training sessions or counseling sessions.
The second bill launches a statewide campaign run by New York's Division of Human Rights that will promote acceptance, inclusion, tolerance and understanding of the diversity of New Yorkers. In addition, public and private organizations will work to develop educational materials to be published online, on social media and on other platforms to reach the public, according to the bill.
"It's heartbreaking to know that there are acts of violence and hatred that exist throughout our country and within our own city, in our own state," Hochul said at a press conference Tuesday.
Last week, two men were arrested in connection with an alleged threat to attack synagogues in New York City. Hochul thanked the early warning system and law enforcement officials for their apprehension, but warned that these kinds of attacks are on the rise.
"Domestic violence extremism is the greatest threat to homeland security," Hochul said.
"This hatred, this violence, will not be tolerated; not now, not ever," Hochul said.
The two bills are a part of Hochul's efforts to fight and prevent hate crimes. They are supported by $245 million in federal funding to support homeland security preparedness, counter terrorism and emergency preparedness in the state, and $96 million in state and federal funding, to safeguard nonprofit, community-based organizations at risk of hate crimes and attacks.
Hochul announced $9 million in Homeland Security grants last month for bomb squads, tactical teams, infrastructure protection, local government and cybersecurity and will redirect $10 million in state funds to support county governments. In addition, Hochul encouraged community-based organizations to apply for funding for the $50 million set aside to strengthen safety measures and protect against hate crimes.
"Why not New York? Why shouldn't we be the place that teaches the rest of the nation, how you can do things differently?" Hochul said.
A gunman opened fire last May in a Tops supermarket store in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 Black people. A grand jury in New York returned a 25-count indictment charging the 18-year-old gunman with carrying out a "domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate."
After the Buffalo shooting, Hochul established a domestic terrorism unit within New York's intelligence center that focuses on social media. Hochul called on New Yorkers to take action and report warning signs when they see them.
"I'd much rather be in the business of preventing crimes and preventing acts of hatred and trying to solve them afterward," Hochul said.