Calling for the “cowards” who defaced a statue of ballplayers Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese in Coney Island last week to be arrested and punished to the fullest extent possible, former comtroller William Thompson on Monday called on the federal government to pay for more surveillance cameras and for schools to do more to teach against prejudice.
Joined by state Sen. Diana Savino, a Democrat who represents southern Brooklyn and has endorsed Thompson’s bid for mayor, the candidate told reporters in a conference call that as mayor he’d try to corral the city’s congressional delegation and the state’s two senators to secure increased funding from the Department of Homeland security. Some of those funds should be deployed to better watch city streets and houses of worship and find perpetrators such as those who drew swastikas and racial epithets on the statue outside MCU Field, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
The vandalism was discovered in the middle of last week. Thompson cited statistics from the Anti-Defamation League showing a recent increase in bias crimes harassment, vandalism and assault rose from 195 in 2011 to 248 in 2012, and in the city from 127 to 172 during the same period.
“The recent hate crime in Brooklyn and others across the city are reprehensible,” said Thompson. “We cannot and will not tolerate an attack against any one religion, ethnicity, race, or gender.”
He said he favored increasing the presence of organizations that already teach tolerance to kids in city schools.
Thompson recently told The Jewish Week that as mayor he’d work to get more cops on the streets by taking them off desk jobs. But in response to a question from a reporter he declined to commit to reassigning cops assigned to minor duties, like traffic stops, to investigating more serious incidents like hate crimes.
When the politician were asked to speculate on why hate crimes may be on the rise, Savino suggested that the anonymoty of the Internet had emboldened hateful people to act out offline as well.
Thompson also called for an education campaign to encourage more New Yorkers to report bias crimes and to offer information to the police about them by calling (800) 577-TIPS.