STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A meeting yesterday among community leaders, elected officials and law enforcement authorities to address the recent spate of hate crimes on Staten Island has prompted City Councilwoman Debi Rose to launch a campaign, "I AM Staten Island," as well as focus on training the public on how to report hate crimes.
Ms. Rose (D-North Shore) organized the meeting, which saw more than 40 federal, state, city and local officials gather in the St. George office of the district attorney.
"An agreement was reached with every level of government, law enforcement and community groups to take a proactive stance to eradicate hate crimes in our communities," said Ms. Rose. "Law enforcement is unified in investigating and prosecuting offenders under New York’s hate crime laws, which are a model for the country."
She called the "I AM Staten Island" campaign "a rallying theme that speaks to the idea that we are all members of a shared community, and that as individuals we must take responsibility for ensuring that Staten Island is a safe and welcoming borough for people of all backgrounds."
Reinaldo Rivera, regional director of the Federal Department of Justice, said the agency will work closely with local leaders as part of the new campaign.
"The purpose is to reduce community tensions and prevent escalation of violent hate crimes perpetrated on any member of a racial, ethnic group or member of the LGBT community. Working together … we will ensure a safe and secure environment for all Staten Island residents," he said.
Ms. Rose noted that the issue extends beyond the recent high-profile assaults on Mexican immigrants in Port Richmond.
"Hate crimes will never be tolerated," said Rep. Michael McMahon at the meeting. "I encourage everyone to look for the commonalities between us all while honoring our differences. That is in the true spirit of this country."
"Hate crimes have absolutely no place in our society. We must maintain a zero-tolerance policy for bias-motivated crimes," said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a statement. "I commend Council member Rose for convening today’s important roundtable in St. George. I will continue to work with her and Congressman McMahon, Speaker Quinn, Borough President Molinaro, Public Advocate de Blasio, law enforcement and the community to combat these heinous criminal acts. The creation of the ‘I AM Staten Island’ campaign will be an important tool to not only teach tolerance, but encourage respect for all."
Among the attendees were: City Human Rights Commissioner Patricia Gatling, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, Mexican Consul General Ambassador Ruben Beltran, the Rev. Terry Troia of Project Hospitality, representatives of the Justice Department, the NYPD, Make the Road, the NYC Council Community Outreach Division, Staten Island branch of the NAACP, local ministers, Staten Island’s Community Board 1, the Port Richmond Improvement Council and Staten Island Immigrants Council.