By Sam Shapiro
ALBANY, NY (WENY) — A Hate and Bias Prevention Unit, part of New York State’s Department of Human Rights, officially launched on Monday. The new unit aims to combat antisemitism and other forms of hate with education.
“This is going to be part of a statewide initiative, going to all 62 counties to educate and be an early warning system,” Governor Kathy Hochul said, adding, “We can be in the prevention business as well by educating people.”
Serving as a detection system in local communities, the unit will be responsible for leading public education and outreach efforts. The unit will also support areas and communities where biases are prevalent.
“No one is alone; there is strength in numbers,” Hochul said, adding, “There is a unity that has risen up… and we will continue to rise.”
Rabbi Dr. Oren Steinitz from Congregation Koi Ami has felt and experienced hate, in addition to antisemitism, since moving to Elmira roughly eight years ago from Canada. He says people should be proud of their history, but not at the expense of other’s people’s heritage.
“It all starts with education,” Rabbi Steinitz said, adding, “The information is out there to grab; the question is will you bother?”
As part of the Hate and Bias Prevention Unit’s mandate, the division is organizing ten regional councils across the state made up of local stakeholders. These councils will provide a place for community members to share concerns, organize educational programming, host hate crime prevention and community healing events, conduct training in conflict resolution, and facilitate the filing of complaints with the Division of Human Rights and other relevant agencies.