ALBANY (The Journal News) -- New York has launched a toll-free hotline to report any incident of bias and discrimination across the state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the hotline Tuesday, which will allow New Yorkers to file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights if they have experienced any form of discrimination.
The creation of the hotline comes after a recent increase in reports of discrimination, harassment and bias across the state after last week's presidential election.
“We are people from all difference races, from all difference countries, different religions, but we are one community at the end of the day,” Cuomo said Monday in Manhattan.
On Election Day, a Wellsville, Allegany County, softball dugout was vandalized with a swastika and the phrase “make America white again.”
On Friday morning, a SUNY Geneseo residence assistant found a swastika and the word “Trump” spray painted onto the wall of a common area in Nassau Residence Hall.
The state is investigating both incidents.
Cuomo has also issued a letter to MaryEllen Elia, the state Education Department commissioner, requesting that schools hold trainings for both staff and students to reaffirm anti-discrimination policies, which include the reporting of criminal discriminatory behavior to law enforcement.
Currently 46 investigators, who are trained as bias crime specialists, have been assigned to State Police troops across the state.
“We will continue to work with our local partners to investigate all incidents of reported bias, and ensure that New Yorkers feel safe and protected,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Any acts of discrimination or intimidation will be met with the full force of the law.”
Under state law, a hate crime is defined as an illegal action that targets a victim because of a perception or belief about their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.
Hate crimes can be perpetrated against an individual, a group of individuals or against public or private property.
New Yorkers who have experienced discrimination can contact the hotline at 888-392-3644, which will be in operation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To report a crime or a fear for safety, New Yorkers should call 911.