New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is urging local law enforcement officials to act swiftly - and willingly - on hate crimes.
"It is not okay to be a bigot in New York or in America. It never has been it never will be," said Schneiderman in a press conference on Thursday morning. A group of interfaith religious heads and community leaders joined him on the stage to discuss the uptick in hate crimes across New York state in the past week.
A bulletin sent Thursday from Schneiderman's office to all New York law enforcement offices outlines New York's hate crimes law and stresses the need to identify and investigate all cases. The state's Division of Human Rights has introduced a new hotline for members of the public to report incidents of bias and discrimination. And today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement regarding KKK fliers being distributed in Patchogue and a swastika found on a subway car.
Imam Khalid Latif was among the religious leaders speaking with Schneiderman. He's the executive director of the Islamic Center at New York University and the New York Police Department's Muslim Chaplain.
"Organized evil will always triumph over disorganized righteousness," Imam Latif said, emphasizing the need for community leaders to work together to document and fight back against hate crimes.
Schneiderman said states across the country are seeing a surge in hate crimes since Election Day, but it's important to uphold the legacy of New York as a place that welcomes everyone.
"And we may be seeing people who are 'tempest-tossed' from other states coming to New York," Schneiderman said, referring to the sonnet engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty. "We welcome you."