Suffolk County launches new program to combat antisemitism

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Suffolk County launches new program to combat antisemitism
Starting this week, people can report antisemitic incidents to the county's 311 call center. Chantee Lans has more.

SUFFOLK COUNTY (WABC) -- Suffolk County announced a new initiative to combat antisemitism on Tuesday.

Starting this week, people can report antisemitic incidents to the county's 311 call center such as verbal slurs, vandalism and disturbing flyers.

According to a report by the American Jewish Committee, 84% of Jewish Americans don't report antisemitic incidents because they don't think they're serious enough, or that anything will be done about it.

"No matter how small, report all," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "You can do it by calling 311, it's as easy as that and just as important."

Jewish community leaders say the move is needed after they say there has been an uptick in antisemitic acts across Long Island -- in both Suffolk and Nassau counties.

"It's scary, especially when you see something that's antisemitic scrolled somewhere or you see flyers that are being distributed, messages that are being said," said Avi Posnick, StandWithUs Northeast Director.

Suffolk County Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Carter said although there is already a hate crime hotline that launched earlier this year, the calls coming into the 311 center could help his detectives solve antisemitic crimes.

"I think it's very important that we have as many ways as possible for the public to report," Carter said.

Each call is confidential. Viviana Russell oversees the 15 operators in the call center, which is open seven days a week.

"We receive a FAQ from our Jewish advisory committee and it's filled with information on what antisemitism is, how to report antisemitism, different examples and then we give that information to our agents," Russell said.

Aside from reporting and punishing for these crimes, county officials say education is key. That's why they say they're opening a dialog with school superintendents to teach students about what antisemitism looks like.

Officials remind residents they should still call 911 for incidents involving violence.

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