In wake of Charlottesville, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo changes state hate crimes law.
In wake of Charlottesville, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo changes state hate crimes law. (Reuters)

In the wake of the weekend’s violence during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making changes to the state’s hate crimes laws.

“I am advancing legislation to add the crimes of inciting to riot and targeted rioting against people based on their identity, including race and ethnicity, to the list of specified offenses under New York’s hate crimes law,” the governor said in a statement Tuesday. “In addition, I’m calling on legislative action to amend the Human Rights Law to protect all public school students and institutions from discrimination.”

The changes will be known as “the Charlottesville provisions” and will reiterate that while peaceful protests are permitted, “New York will never tolerate advocacy or the incitement of imminent violence against protected classes within our community,” Cuomo added.

James Fields, a 20-year-old man said to be a Nazi sympathizer, was arrested after he mowed down counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Saturday, leaving one woman dead and 19 others injured.

Several others were arrested for their involvement in street fights that injured 15 people, and two state troopers managing crowd control were killed when their helicopter crashed.

The white supremacists converged on Charlottesville with torches Friday night to protest the removal of a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue on the main campus of the University of Virginia. Lee commanded the pro-slavery Confederate Army in the U.S. Civil War.

“The ugly events that took place in Charlottesville must never be repeated, and in New York, we are taking a united stand against hate in all of its forms,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance applauded Cuomo’s legislation.

“Domestic terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists and neo-Nazis has no place in this city, and will be prosecuted by this office,” Vance said in a statement. “The ability to bring criminal charges as an act of terrorism or as a hate crime is not possible in every state, but it should be. I urge other states to follow the governor’s example and examine their own laws and seek ways to strengthen them. Prosecutors around the country need the strongest tools available to them to deter acts of hate and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

According to the state’s Anti-Hate Crime Resource Guide, “a person commits a hate crime when he or she commits a ‘specified offense’ motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct.”

In the first quarter of 2017, there were 34 arrests involving hate crime incidents in New York City, according to NYPD data.

Broken down, 31 of those arrested were male and three were female; 15 were Hispanic, 12 were white and seven were black.

Regarding the individual bias motivation of the 34 arrests:

• 10 were anti-Jewish
• 7 were anti-black
• 6 were anti-male homosexual
• 4 were anti-Asian
• 3 were anti-Hispanic
• 1 was anti-white
• 1 was anti-Muslim/Islamic
• 1 was anti-female homosexual
• 1 was anti-transgender

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