NYC 'bias response team' launched to fight spike in hate crimes

The team will respond directly to reported hate crimes

By Ivan Pereira

NEW YORK — The city will announce Tuesday an expanded grassroots campaign to fight the growing number of discrimination and bias attacks that have taken place in New York recently.

The city’s Commission on Human Rights said there has been a 30 percent increase in reported hate crimes this year, especially against Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ and other minority New Yorkers.

Carmelyn Malalis, the commission’s chair, said she and her team will expand the agency’s anti-discrimination hotline and create a “bias response team” that will directly respond to reported incidents.

[The commission] “is using every resource at its disposal to inform people of their rights and encourage them to report acts of bias and discrimination,” she said in a statement.

The hotline, 718-722-3131, will now have 10 people, double its current amount, who will document bias complaints and inform callers about their rights. Since Election Day, the hotline has received 30 to 50 calls a day, according to Malalis.

The commission will also hit the streets to provide assistance to victims of bias incidents in person. Ten members of the new team will be stationed throughout the five boroughs and reach victims of bias attacks or discrimination based on tips and referrals from the NYPD, New Yorkers and other sources.

The team will inform the victims about their options and encourage them to file a discrimination complaint with the commission.

“We’ve been doing this before, but now we’ll be able to get to people faster,” said Seth Hoy, a spokesman for the commission.

The team members will also reach out to community members where bias incidents take place and inform them about the laws that protect New Yorkers.

Human Rights Commission members will kick off their expanded programs Tuesday morning along with other city agencies and several City Council members, such as Rosie Mendez and Brad Lander. The groups will be at subway stations throughout the city to distribute brochures that have a fact sheet on discriminatory harassment and religious protections.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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