Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of lower Manhattan on Sunday to show their support to New York’s Jewish community following a wave of anti-Semitic attacks that shocked the region late last year. Ignoring the cold weather, people gathered at Foley Square in Manhattan to then march across the Brooklyn Bridge. NYPD estimated that some 20,000 people participated in the march.
Lawmakers and government officials joined the demonstrators who chanted, “No hate, no fear, our Jewish families are welcome here.” The spate of recent anti-Semitic violence, which included an attack inside a Hasidic rabbi’s home in a New York suburb on Dec. 28, put a spotlight on just how much these types of crimes have increased. The NYPD says there was a 24 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 when compared to 2018. And it isn’t just in New York. A report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, shows that anti-Semitic crimes in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago has reached an 18-year high.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at Sunday’s march and said he would propose a new law to label hate crimes as domestic terrorism. “These are terrorists and it should be punished as such,” Cuomo said. He also vowed that the state would increase funding for security and presence of security forces in vulnerable communities. “While we’re here today in the spirit of solidarity and love, government must do more than just offer thoughts and prayers. Government must act,” Cuomo said.
Mayor Bill De Blasio, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsen Gillibrand were among the elected officials who participated in the demonstration. Schumer said he would introduce legislation to incrase federal funding to protect houses of worship. “They need to be protected, and so our proposal, we were able to get a $30 million increase in a grant to protect houses of worship last year. I am now proposing that it quadruple to $360 million,” he said. Schumer also drew a historical parallel. “When people of good will saw anti-Semitism in Germany in the 20s and 30s, they did not do enough,” he said. “We are standing strong.”
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