We all know what led to this, and the impacts are being felt throughout the nation, Brooklyn included. People with hate in their hearts now feel empowered to not only spew vile words at others, but also to cause them harm for simply being who they are. In the world’s most culturally diverse community, a community where our differences have so often been embraced and celebrated, the District Attorney’s response to hate crimes must be swift and sure.
It’s shocking then, that at such a critical time, the Acting District Attorney has chosen to downgrade the size and scope of his hate crimes unit.
Under my leadership, the Brooklyn DA’s office will have a free-standing Hate-Crimes Bureau with courageous management, experienced attorneys and specially trained investigators. Victims of hate crimes endure a unique kind of trauma that is directly linked to personal and cultural identity. They must have access to safe and quick avenues of reporting hate crimes and to the Special Victims counselors who will provide support in the aftermath of a hate crime.
Where a case is first reported to New York City’s fine, hard-working Hate Crimes Unit, the DA’s office will partner with them to solve the crime and prosecute quickly. Where the case comes directly to the DA’s office through the Project Safe Here hotline, the Hate Crimes Bureau will investigate immediately. Any Hate Crime statute violations will be prosecuted aggressively.
The most important resolution of a hate crime trial is for the victim to feel that justice has been served and for the community to feel safe in their homes, on their blocks, and in Brooklyn. That is why the victim must be kept informed and given a voice as criminal proceedings unfold.
Of course, the best way to deal with hate crimes are to prevent them from happening at all. That is why, as DA, I will be partnering with researchers at the university level to develop statistical information about the connection between mental illness and hate-based actions. This is work that will not just benefit Brooklyn, but will inform the conversation about hate crimes on a national level. Brooklyn, FIRST and BEST.