Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado has had a busy time in office alongside Governor Kathy Hochul. Amsterdam News caught up with him to discuss a passion project of his—a statewide Hate and Bias Prevention Unit.
The unit operates within the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) and focuses on public education and outreach efforts in local communities as well as quickly mobilizing to support areas and communities where an incident has occurred, said Hochul’s office.
Delgado chairs the unit and launched the program last year. The unit preceded the asylum seeker crisis, said Delgado, and has taken a personal interest in seeing the unit come to fruition.
“The idea behind it is that with all the pushback we’re experiencing across the state and the country, for that matter, when it comes to the normalization of hate and intolerance, New York has to lead in this effort,” said Delgado.
The unit is responsible for organizing 10 regional councils across the state made up of community members and developing a rapid response team to hate crimes. The councils coordinate with established organizations on the ground, school districts, places of worship, charities, and foundations to promote inclusion and tolerance.
“We have to figure out how to empower these individuals, to connect them to resources, and not just check the box and identify the nonprofit that happens to have the most capital or the biggest personnel,” said Delgado. “I really think it’s important at the state level [that] we take steps to identify those true actors in our communities.”
New York State is unique in its enacting of a Human Rights Law, affording every citizen “an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life.” Hochul allocated $96 million in state and federal funding to combating hate and violence across New York. A portion of $10 million went to safeguarding reproductive health care centers and abortion services providers at risk of attacks—and another $10 million went towards stopping domestic terrorism like the horrific white supremacist attack at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, said Hochul’s office.
Delgado said the councils have begun working in collaboration with local partners to inspire people to discuss their lives with one another and decrease the stigma around reporting a hate crime. “The next phase is going to be to work[ing] with the Governor to figure out how we can empower these councils,” he said.
Individuals interested in finding out more information or filing a complaint with the DHR, visit dhr.ny.gov/complaint.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.