November 12, 2016
Governor Andrew Cuomo sent out the following statement, in the 4:00 hour, on Saturday afternoon:
GOVERNOR CUOMO ORDERS JOINT INVESTIGATION BETWEEN STATE POLICE AND STATE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS INTO ALLEGED HATE CRIME IN WELLSVILLE
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a joint investigation between the New York State Police and the State Division of Human Rights into the alleged hate crime in Wellsville, New York. Earlier this week, it was reported that a softball field dugout was defaced with the words “Make America White Again,” accompanied by a spray-painted swastika. Governor Cuomo has directed a full investigation into the alleged hate crime.
“New York has zero tolerance for bigotry, fear and hatred, and those who seek to undermine the core values this state and nation were founded upon,” Governor Cuomo said. “I have ordered a full investigation into this deplorable act, and those responsible for this conduct will be held to the fullest extent of the law. New York is one of the most inclusive and open communities in the world – this type of behavior is not who we are, and not who we will ever be.”
In 2000, New York State enacted legislation to strengthen penalties for hate crimes. Under the law, a person commits a hate crime when one of a specified set of offenses is committed targeting a victim because of a perception or belief about their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, or when such an act is committed as a result of that type of perception or belief. Hate crimes can be perpetrated against an individual, a group of individuals or against public or private property. Also under state law it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, ethnicity and many other protected classifications.
On Wednesday, Wellsville Police Chief Tim O’Grady sent out this statement:
There has been a lot of media attention and public outrage concerning the graffiti incident which was reported yesterday in the Village of Wellsville. First, I would like to set the record straight regarding the police department’s reported response. This incident occurred on private property and was reported to the police by a local media outlet. Upon the officer’s response, the initial focus was to determine who owned the property so that we could establish a complainant. Once that was completed we worked with the property owners to ensure the graffiti would be promptly painted over. I would like to thank the volunteers who quickly responded to ensure that this was done. The graffiti was certainly concerning, bias and racially charged but we have not developed a specific target. The department is actively investigating the incident and will charge anyone responsible. There are no suspects at this time and we are asking that anyone who may have observed suspicious activity in that area during the overnight hours of Monday into Tuesday morning to please contact the police department at 593-5600.
At this time it appears that this is an isolated incident. In no way does this act represent the sentiments of the Wellsville residents and it will not be condoned. In my opinion the incident has received more media attention that it deserved, which is exactly what the vandal wanted.
Timothy J. O’Grady
Chief of Police
Wellsville Police Department
46 South Main Street
Wellsville, New York 14895