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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Mayor de Blasio Launches Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, Months Ahead of Schedule

Deborah Lauter, National Leader in Combating Bias and Hate Crimes, named Executive Director

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the hiring of Deborah Lauter as the new Executive Director of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC), officially launching the new city organization months ahead of the official deadline. Lauter began her work with the office on August 26, 2019.

“In New York City, we cherish our differences and reject all attempts to divide – everyone is respected and supported, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or any other quality that makes them who they are,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With Deborah leading our Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes we’ll be able to take a closer look at the root cause of hate and weed it out of our society. Together, we’ll work with communities to make our streets safer.”

“By establishing this office, the Mayor and City Council have demonstrated their commitment to combating the disturbing growth of hate violence,” said Deborah Lauter, Executive Director of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. “I look forward to coordinating with city agencies that have been stakeholders in addressing hate crimes, elevating the successful work they do, and developing new strategies to work with communities throughout the five boroughs to ensure that all New Yorkers feel respected, safe and supported. My career has been devoted to the fight against bigotry and hate and I am excited to dedicate my skills and expertise to serving the City.”

Lauter brings three decades of experience working against hate acts and bigotry. Formerly a senior vice-president for the Anti-Defamation League, Lauter’s work has helped build training and education programs that provide schools, law enforcement officials, and communities with the resources to target the roots of hatred. During her tenure as ADL’s National Civil Rights Director, the organization led the national coalition that secured passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Federal Hate Crimes Act. The federal legislation provides funding and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to help them to more effectively investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

Earlier this year the City Council passed, and the Mayor signed into law, legislation to establish the OPHC. Embedded in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the OPHC will take a holistic approach to preventing hate crimes, developing and coordinating community-driven prevention strategies to address biases fueling such crimes, and fostering healing for victims and their communities. The new office will coordinate city efforts to prevent and respond to hate crimes through an interagency committee, which includes the NYPD, City Commission on Human Rights, Department of Education, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

OPHC will work to address the underlying factors driving hate crimes of all types, and against all targeted communities, through proactive outreach to community groups and coordinated intervention efforts among government agencies to deploy resources before incidents occur. 

“The dedicated detectives of the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force work hand-in-hand with other investigative units throughout the city to vigorously investigate hate crimes and bias incidents and bring justice for victims of these crimes,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “We will not tolerate hate of any kind in New York City and we look forward to collaborating with this new office on this critical work.”

“We are thrilled that the Mayor is opening an Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. We have seen an unprecedented increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans, especially Sikhs and Muslims, and other minority communities in New York City these past years. Not only are these Americans victimized, they are often afraid to report these crimes.  We hope that a dedicated office can spear head much needed education and awareness that will help mitigate the xenophobia that is putting so many in our communities in danger, and encourage affected community members to come forward to seek justice." said Jo Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation.

“The Asian Pacific American community in NYC, a heavily immigrant community, experience high rates of hate crimes that often go unreported, especially in the anti-immigrant climate we live in now,” said Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Directors of the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families (CACF). “We are pleased with the action NYC Council and the City is taking to protect the safety and well-being of NYC residents by creating an Office of Prevention of Hate Crimes. It is more critical than ever to ensure that bigotry and hate do not continue to endanger our communities. CACF is happy to support the Office in undertaking the engagement and education necessary to address the concerns of all communities across the city.”  

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