Acting United States Attorney Mark J. Lesko, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Urge the Public to Report Hate Crimes
Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York joined Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz at the first-ever Hate Crimes Forum yesterday in Queens Borough Hall, where law enforcement and community leaders and advocates discussed in depth what constitutes a hate crime and how these crimes are investigated and prosecuted.
“My office shares the commitment of the District Attorneys, law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups within the Eastern District of New York to making the district a safer place for everyone, by conducting outreach to prevent hate crimes and assisting our state partners or bringing federal prosecutions as appropriate,” stated U.S. Attorney Capers. “Crimes motivated by bias - whether against a race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or otherwise - will be addressed head on, with the goal of justice for all. We cannot reach our full potential and promise as a country until every person can live free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”
District Attorney Brown said, “In 1987, my office was the first District Attorney’s Office in New York City to establish a unit specifically focused on the prosecution of individuals who victimize others based on their own prejudices. Hate crimes – whether motivated by sexual orientation, gender, religious or ethnic bias – will never be tolerated in Queens County.”
Queens Borough President Katz said, “Yesterday’s Hate Crimes Forum helped reconvene a broad spectrum of community leaders, advocates and stakeholders to review the laws and procedures related to how hate crimes are investigated and prosecuted. Hate crimes are taken very seriously in the Borough of Queens, and combating it requires the collaboration of various entities. Thank you to District Attorney Brown, the NYPD and U.S. Attorney Robert Capers for working with my office to host this important forum.”
Assistant Commissioner for the Law Enforcement Bureau at the New York City Commission on Human Rights Sapna V. Raj said, “Everyone in New York City deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. The Commission enforces one of the strongest City anti-discrimination laws in the nation and strives to educate every New Yorker about protections under the law. Yesterday’s forum provided a great opportunity for advocates and community members to learn about the City’s many resources and services available to victims of discrimination.”
More than 50 different community groups and organizations attended the Hate Crimes Forum, which included formal presentations from the invited speakers and a question and answer segment to zero in on community concerns.
Featured Speakers Included:
▸ Robert L. Capers, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
▸ Deputy Inspector Mark Magrone, the commanding officer of the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force
▸ Queens Assistant District and Section Chief Attorney Michael E. Brovner, of District Attorney Brown’s Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureau
▸ Assistant Commissioner Sapna V. Raj, of New York City’s Commission on Human Rights
▸ Lead Advisor Rama Issa, Community Relations Bureau, of the New York City Commission on Human Rights
The goal of the forum was to reach out to the vibrant Queens community of organizations and community groups in order to provide information about the law enforcement response to hate crimes. The turnout reflected a vast diversity of ethnic, racial, religious, sexual orientation and geographical interest, to name a few. In turn, it also provided an opportunity for law enforcement representatives to hear about the community concerns in regards to this topic, as well as some others.
In addition to the featured speakers, there were several pieces of hate crime prevention artwork displayed at the venue. The thought-provoking images were created for an annual art contest and exhibition established by the Organization of Chinese Americans-New York Chapter. The competition was designed to engage young people and to encourage them to speak out against hate crimes through creative expression.
The conference was organized by Assistant District Attorney Mariela Palomino Herring, Bureau Chief of District Attorney Brown’s Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Jesse Sligh, Special Prosecutions Division, and in collaboration with Susie Tanenbaum, Director of Immigrant and Intercultural Affairs, Queens Borough President’s Office.