December 29, 2019
Transcript of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Remarks, At The Synagogue In Rockland County, Where There Was A Stabbing Yesterday
Thank you. I want to thank Mr. Spitzer for his leadership. I want to thank the members of law enforcement who are here, Chief of Ramapo Police, Sherriff Falco who you will hear from in a moment, the State Police are here.
Law enforcement did a great job last night and I want to thank them very much. The local officials who are here. The community liaison people who are here.
It is a very sad situation obviously. It is also very disturbing. I visited with the Rabbi this morning. When he talks about what happened, it’s even more frightening than the reports you read in the newspapers or on the television. And inexplicable, no warning, nothing said – just hate. Just hate and violence, that is all it was.
Now, I would like to say that, I wish I could say that this was an isolated situation. Unfortunately, it is not. We have had 13 acts of anti-Semitism since December 8th in New York State. I’d like to say it’s only those 13. The truth is we’ve had incidents all across the state against the LGBTQ community, against the African-American community, the Latino community.
And it is not just about New York State. This is a national phenomenon that we are seeing. It is frightening and it is disturbing. If anyone thinks that something poisonous is not going on in this country, then they are in denial frankly. How many incidents do you have to see from coast to coast? Hostility based on religion, based on race, based on creed, based on immigration status — it’s all across the country. It is an American cancer that is spreading in the body politic. An American cancer, turned one cell in the body against the other. Once we become intolerant of differences, then we are intolerant with America, because America is all about differences. We are all from someplace else, and we were founded on the premise of tolerance for the differences.
These acts are intolerant — they’re ignorant. To attack the Jewish community — the nation is based on freedom of religion. George Washington celebrated with the Jewish community. That’s what America is all about. Ignorance and tolerance and it’s also illegal, and for government, the question is, what are you going to do to stop it and how are you going to protect us? 13 incidents against the Jewish community — nationwide scourge of hostility. Other incidents in this state. Attack the ignorance, attack the intolerance — education, cultural awareness — but attack the illegality. Yes it’s ignorant, yes it’s intolerant — it’s also illegal. And we will enforce the law. We’re going to have an increase in police presence. We have the toughest hate crime laws in the United States of America and we are going to enforce them to the full extent of the law.
I also believe the situation has gotten so bad frankly that we have to increase our legal enforcement not just with more police but we have to change the laws to call this what it is. This is terrorism. It is domestic terrorism. These are people who intend to create mass harm, mass violence, generate fear based on race, color, creed. That is the definition of terrorism, and just because they don’t come from another country doesn’t mean that they’re not terrorists – and they should be prosecuted as domestic terrorists because that’s what they are. And I want this state to be the first state to have a domestic terrorism law to express how ignorant this is, how intolerant it is and how criminal it is. And I’ll be proposing that law for this state.
New York is all about diversity. New York is all about tolerance. We’re 19 million people from all across the globe. We’re not going to allow this poison to spread throughout our state because it is a poison and no one else can defeat this country, but this country can defeat itself. It has to stop. Government must take the lead and New York State will.
Thank you. Mr. Gold brings to mind. There is a quote at the Holocaust Museum in Israel that says to the effect, “A country is not just what it does, it is what it tolerates.” And that is a haunting quote for us in this country. I think our united message today is we will not tolerate anti-Semitism. Not just in our words, but in our actions. And government’s jobs is to protect people and this state government will protect people of the Jewish faith and every other religion in this state.