Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday put the onus of increased bias crimes in the city on President-elect Donald Trump’s caustic campaign rhetoric.
“Do I blame Donald Trump for using hate speech during his campaign? Absolutely!,” de Blasio said at a news conference in which he sat next to Aml Elsokary, a Muslim NYC police officer who — along with her son — were the targets of a hate attack last week.
“He did, it’s a fact. He said horrible things about Muslims, horrible things about Mexican-Americans,” de Blasio said of the president-elect.
The mayor avoided accusing Trump directly for the rise in hate attacks, however, and added that he “has a chance to make it better by amending his comments and being a force of reconciliation”.
The attack on Elsokary was “unacceptable”, de Blasio said.
“I was sick to my stomach when I heard that one of our officers was subjected to threats and taunting simply because of her faith,” he said. “We can’t allow this.”
Elsokary, a NYC native, was awarded a medal for her bravery for saving a child and an elderly person from a burning building in 2014. De Blasio called her a “hero” at the time.
“This is Officer Elsokary’s country. She is an American, she is a New Yorker. She is already at home,” de Blasio said at Monday’s press conference. “She is an example of everything we would want from our fellow citizens — a commitment to others, a commitment to service, a willingness to do something greater than herself, and what does she get for it? Threats to her life and bigotry, taunts.”
Elsokary said, “I’m here to protect you and I know that my department and my city is here to protect me.
“I became a police officer to show the positive side of a New Yorker, Muslim woman that can do the job, that is non-bias, that I can help everybody no matter what’s your religion,” she said.
Elsokary dropped off her son Saturday in Brooklyn while off duty. After parking her car, she found the boy being pushed around by a white man in his 30s, later identified by police as Christopher Nelson, who was arrested Monday on charges of menacing and second-degree harassment.
“ISIS (expletive), I will cut your throat, go back to your country!” Nelson reportedly shouted at the unarmed officer and her son.
Elsokary, who wears the hijab, or Muslim head covering, on duty, has been serving as a member of the department for nearly 15 years, having joined shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Meanwhile, almost three times more people have become victims of hate attacks in the city since the election of Trump than in the same period last year, according to the New York Police Department.
Thirty-four hate crimes or bias incidents were reported between the election Nov. 8 through Nov. 27, compared to 13 last year, according to police statistics.
Another incident was reported Monday when a Muslim Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker who wears the hijab was attacked during the morning commute. Soha Salama, 45, was verbally abused by passenger on the train, who then followed Salama off the car and pushed her off the stairs, leaving her with leg injuries.
The attacks against Salama and Elsokary came after an 18-year-old Muslim woman, who also wears the hijab, was harassed by three apparently drunk men on the platform of the number 6 train station in Manhattan. The men grabbed Yasmin Seweid’s bag and broke its strap, before attempting to pull the hijab off her head.
Media reports said during the attack the men repeatedly screamed Donald Trump’s name and called her a “[expletive] terrorist”.