Hate crimes are on the rise, jumping 11.6% in 2021, according to the latest FBI data. Among the more than 12,000 victims reported, 65% were targeted due to race, ethnicity or ancestry; 16% were targeted due to sexual orientation; and 14% were targeted on the basis of religion.
Governors have a long history of spearheading efforts to prevent ideologically inspired violence. In 2018, Governors from four states participated in an NGA Policy Academy focused on preventing targeted violence. Supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships, the policy academy identified a number of strategies Governors can deploy, including: compiling data, reducing risk factors, educating the public, connecting people to prevention services and fostering community resilience.
As the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism works to raise awareness of growing antisemitism threats, multiple Governors have worked with state legislatures to underline that hate has no place in their states:
Established in 1982 with bipartisan support, the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education works with schools to support Holocaust and genocide education and awareness. Housed within the Department of Education, the Commission regularly surveys the status of Holocaust education, provides assistance and advice to schools and coordinates events to support appropriate memorialization of the Holocaust.
Governor Phil Murphy: “We will not be indifferent. We will remain vigilant. We will take any and every threat with the utmost seriousness and we will stand up and stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish congregations… We will always endeavor to ensure that every New Jerseyan of every faith may continue to live, study, and worship without fear for their safety.”
In April 2022, the Utah state legislature approved a resolution “[condemning] antisemitic acts and statements as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the state of Utah” and “[calling] upon all residents to treat each other with respect.”
Governor Spencer Cox: “It’s not enough to condemn antisemitism and racism. We need to teach our children about our history so we don’t repeat it. HCR15 condemns antisemitic acts and hate speech, while also highlighting Utah’s Jewish history and culture.”
In 2022, the Colorado General Assembly approved a resolution to commemorate the Holocaust. The resolution pledged support for anti-bias, bullying prevention, and Holocaust and genocide education programs in school districts and universities to prevent antisemitic incidents. The resolution further declared that “the people of Colorado should understand the power of words, remember the great injustices of the past, and commit to preventing such atrocities in the future.”
Governor Jared Polis: “We have a responsibility to remain vigilant against hate, bigotry, and discrimination in all its forms, because history shows us how easily a hateful ideology can lead to targeted violence. We are at our best when we stand together and work together to create a Colorado For All where everyone has an opportunity to succeed and to live with freedom and dignity.”
In December 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the launch of a statewide Hate and Bias Prevention Unit, which is charged with leading public education and outreach efforts, serving as an early warning detection system in local communities, and quickly mobilizing to support areas and communities in which a bias incident has occurred.
Governor Kathy Hochul: “New York State will use every tool at its disposal to eliminate hate and bias from our communities. We will not let the rise in hate incidents that we see happening online, across the country and across the world, take root here at home.”
In recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January 2022, Governor Kevin Stitt issued a proclamation reaffirming the promise to never forget the horrific events of the Holocaust and to raise awareness of rising antisemitism.
Governor Kevin Stitt: “We the people of the State of Oklahoma recommit ourselves to the promise that Never Again can such a tragedy occur by remembering the victims of the Holocaust, teaching our children about this tragedy and using the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as a tool for identifying and speaking out against antisemitism.”
On his first day in office in January 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order Number 8 establishing the Commission to Combat Antisemitism, which released a report in December 2022. With the support of Governor Youngkin and bipartisan legislators, the Virginia General Assembly approved legislation to combat antisemitism in February 2023.
Governor Glenn Youngkin: “Hate has no place in the Commonwealth, and I’m proud to take continued steps to fight antisemitism. I am truly inspired by the devotion shown to transform what started as an idea into a law that will change how we combat antisemitism in the Commonwealth. I want to thank everyone who poured their heart and soul into seeing this bill pass.”