Press Release

Standing With Local Community Leaders, Senator Gillibrand Denounces Recent Spike In Hate Crimes In Rochester And Across The State

Nov 22, 2016

Rochester, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was joined today by local community leaders, including Mayor Lovely Warren and leaders from the faith community, to denounce the recent spike in hate crimes that have occurred in Rochester and across the state.

“In recent weeks, there has been a clear and documented spike in hate crimes across New York and our country, including numerous threatening acts right here in the Rochester area,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “These acts represent the worst of us, and I am deeply disturbed that certain people with warped, bigoted views are feeling newly empowered to intimidate and threaten others. It is disgraceful that anyone in our community would turn on their own neighbors and classmates in this way. Every New Yorker has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and no one should have to endure intimidation and bigotry. It is more important now than ever that we remember this. So I urge everyone to be on the lookout for injustices and bigotry, and when you see them, do not be afraid to shout out in protest. This is our responsibility as New Yorkers.”

“Rochester has always been a city that stands on the side of unity and equality,” said Mayor Lovely Warren. “We’re a city that has always shown that we’re stronger when we’re united than when we’re divided.  That’s why I’m grateful to Senator Gillibrand for choosing Rochester as the place to take a stand against hate crimes and deliver this important message of unity and tolerance,” said Mayor Lovely Warren.

“Ours is a community of inclusion: of diversity; and of unity.  The Muslim community draws from over 50 countries the world over.  We are commanded to respect people of all faiths and backgrounds, to know one another, and join everyone in service to the community and mankind.  We join today with Senator Gillibrand and all faith and community based organizations in calling for a return to respectful relationships amongst all Rochesterians, regardless of their background, religion, ethnicity or orientation.  We condemn any effort to create disharmony amongst any ethnic or religious based organizations, and repudiate the repugnant efforts in the towns of Brighton and Pittsford attempting to sow hate amongst neighbors,” said Sareer Fazili, President Islamic Center of Rochester.

“The crime of silence by good people in the face of bigotry and oppression has proven over history to allow the triumph of evil. When any person or group in a society is threatened the threat eventually extends to all of us. We stand with all people in New York and throughout the country as a reasoned voice against bigotry. May we protect the rights of all  humanity in order to build and strengthen the principles on which our country was founded and is the basic teaching of all faiths,” said Rabbi Alan J Katz of Temple Sinai.

There has been a recent surge in hate crimes across New York State, including numerous incidents in Rochester. In the Rochester area, LGBT flags have been burned, hate fliers were distributed to local neighborhoods, and anti-Semitic graffiti was found at SUNY Geneseo.

Below are Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as delivered:

“Thank you Mayor, for not only your kind words, but for your extraordinary leadership, for your very clear voice in a very difficult time, for your boldness and your determination to protect the city and to make a difference. Thank you for your hard work.

“Now, I want to recognize the extraordinary leaders standing behind me. These are our elected leaders, they are advocates, they lead non-profits, they are the ones who protect us, who speak up for us, who defend the least among us. These are people who are literally making a difference on the front lines every single day, and so I’d like to thank each and every one of them standing with us today. Thank you.

“This morning I was in Buffalo, and we were hosted by Catholic Charities, in a beautiful church. We were there to talk to refugees who came from all across the world to upstate New York. They were fleeing horrible instances of violence, war, and starvation in their countries – and they came to America.

“And we talked about their stories. Their stories of survival. Their stories of hope. Every single one of them talked about the welcoming arms of America, and that these amazing people wanted them to be part of this Buffalo community.

“They talked about the blessings they received from America. Education – they learned to speak English – and every single one of them said, with enormous gratitude, “I am so grateful to be near the people. For letting me work hard, pay my taxes and build this community.”

“And that’s what they have done in Buffalo. Buffalo is a city that has declined in population decade after decade, but this year, for the first time, it’s growing in population, because the mayor there and the community there has welcomed refugees from around the world to help rebuild that city – starting business, starting restaurants, employing others, and helping them.

“So with that in mind, I want to talk about the extraordinary hate we have seen in this state over the last several months. All of us are standing here together to speak out against hate crimes. All of us are here standing to make it very clear that our entire state rejects these horrible incidents of hate.

“In recent weeks, there has been a clear and documented spike in hate crimes across New York and our country, including several acts right here in Rochester. Anti-Semitic graffiti was found at SUNY Geneseo. Hate fliers were distributed by people in local neighborhoods. LGBT flags have been burned.

“According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in the days immediately following the election, there have been hundreds of incidents of hate being reported across the country. The FBI has reported a spike in hate crimes nationwide. Colleges in New York State have been vandalized with Swastikas.

“In this day and age, can you imagine a college campus being vandalized with Swastikas?

“K-12 – our children are reporting instances of bullying, harassment, and hate. A playground in Brooklyn had Swastikas spray-painted on our children’s equipment. A baseball field in Wellsville was vandalized.

“So we know, as a nation, that these acts do not represent us.

“They do not represent the ideals of America, or the ideals of our American values.

“The Statue of Liberty that stands in New York Harbor – it stands for something. It stands for the principle that we believe in freedom for all. That we believe what makes us stronger is our diversity.

“The Founding Fathers believed that America’s story would be different from other countries. It would be written with the hard work of immigrants from around the world. It would be written with the determination and belief in opportunity for all. It was founded on the fundamental principle that we owe an obligation to one another.

“We have been taught that how we treat one another, what we do for the least among us, defines us. It defines our American character. It defines our American story.

“So I want to speak up and give a message to our community, to our students.

“Stand up against bullies. Defend the one who is being harassed. Stand in front of them and say, ‘This is not acceptable, not in my school’.

“To our communities: Protect the vulnerable. Protect those who need our strength, who need our resolve. When a woman and her daughter are grocery shopping in our neighborhoods, and are being harassed because they are wearing head scarves, stand up for them.

“The American dream is a vision of all that is possible. It is a dream for all of us.

“It doesn’t say, ‘The American Dream is just for some of us’.

“It doesn’t matter what your race is, what your gender is, what your religion is, what your sexual orientation is. The American Dream is for all of us.

“So all of us must stand up. Speak out. Speak out loudly.

“Talk about what you care about, and what this country means to you.

“This hate, this language, this behavior must never be normalized. It must never be okay.

“For all New Yorkers, stand with us. Call it out, be heard, and fight for this country we love so dearly.”