By COLlive reporter
Photos: Aharon Gellis/COLlive
A full crowd gathered in Crown Heights Wednesday for a hate crimes summit organized by the Jewish Advisory Council of New York City Mayor Eric Adams and hosted at the Jewish Children’s Museum.
Speakers included various members of law enforcement from New York law enforcement agencies, from the NYPD, from the State Police, and the FBI.
Each speaker presented information relating to hate crimes and security relating to their department. Fred Kreizman, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs, was the MC for the event.
Captain Gary Marcus, Head of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, addressed the topic of hate crimes, explaining what constitutes a hate crime and how it gets identified. Marcus stressed the importance of reporting hate crimes, noting that many people don’t report. In order for law enforcement to be able to investigate a case, people must report, he said.
A speaker from the NYPD legal department explained the legalities of what a hate crime is, what the definition of it is according to the guidelines of the law.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez then spoke about the legal system, and explained what happens when a crime gets to them – what is indictable, how the process works, when it is deemed a hate crime. The DA explained the difficulties in proving that a crime is in fact a hate crime, because it must be proven what the perpetrator was thinking at the time of the offense. The DA also noted that the Museum is the perfect place for an event to prevent hate crimes, because it was built in memory of Ari Halberstam, who was murdered by an act of terror simply because he was a Jew.
The DA stressed that witnesses are a key part of prosecuting a hate crime, they must come forward and be called in front of a grand jury.
Questions from residents who were in the audience ranged from information about the recent murder of a Jewish woman in Detroit to the recent attacks in Israel and the victims of the Hamas murders – some of whom are American citizens.
FBI Director in Charge James Smith discussed how strongly the FBI investigates hate crimes and how they are involved in hate crimes on the federal level. Chief John Hart discussed the special office of intelligence, which is responsible for looking out for the safety and security of the community.
NYPD Inspector Richard Taylor spoke about community affairs involvement and how the input of community affairs, because they’re embedded in the community, have a significant role in protecting the community and in solving hate crimes as well.
Ingrid Lewis Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor, and Joel Eisdorfer, Senior Advisor to the Mayor, spoke on behalf of the Mayor and the Mayor’s Advisory Council.
Devorah Halberstam – co-founder and director of external affairs at the Jewish Children’s Museum and Chair of NYPD’s Hate Crime Review Panel, Co-Chair of Mayor’s Jewish Advisory Council on Hate Crimes, closed the event with a silent prayer for the hostages currently being held in Gaza.
In her remarks, Halberstam said, “Many of us in this room tonight are in mourning. We are in mourning because what happened on October 7th has shaken us to our core.
“What is also disgraceful and dangerous is how some people in our own community have used what is happening in the Middle East, to perpetrate their own forms of antisemitic hate and violence.
“Social media spreads this venomous bigotry at lightning speed. Swastikas are painted on the doors of homes and synagogues. Hate crimes are skyrocketing now, and New York is no exception. We, as a community, have not done all that we can, and all that we must, to combat hate and terrorism in this country. And because of that, we have enabled hate to metastasize into a monstrosity that has caused our people to be attacked, assaulted, and even murdered, because of their religion, and regardless of age or gender.
“With the leadership, expertise, and commitment [of law enforcement leaders] we can, and we must, fight the rising tide of antisemitism and work to defeat it once and for all. Our safety, indeed our lives, depend on it,” she said.
Additional attendees were Deputy Commissioner Gerber, Chief of Detectives, Chief Kenny, Chief of Patrol John Chell, Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry, Commissioner of CCHR Annabel Palma and Executive Director of OPHC Hassan Naveed.