A change in the law is needed to combat the increase in hate crimes in New York, state Attorney General Letitia James said Wednesday at a forum on white nationalism and domestic terrorism.
“Given the rise in hate crimes, to sit idly by and do absolutely nothing to me is not the answer," James said at the forum, hosted by the New York State Bar Association.
But at the same time, James also laid blame on President Donald Trump for stoking hatred in the country, blasting him for his rhetoric aimed at women and vulnerable people.
"Lastly, let me just say we failed to mention the elephant in the room: Why are we talking about white nationalism at this point in time in the history of this country?" James said. "And the question is 2016. You had a president who basically has denigrated women, Mexicans, disabled, Muslims and the list goes on and on, and refuses to denounce white nationalism.”
James said there is a need for "moral leadership" again and a president who will "stand up and call it as it is, and that is hate."
"We find ourselves in this country now divided more than ever before since the Civil War," she said. "And what we need is decency back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and to make changes to the law to hold these individuals responsible so they will go back to covering themselves under the sheets.”
James is yet to publicly endorse in the presidential campaign.
Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to create a new domestic terrorism charge this year for hate crimes, a proposal that comes amid a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in New York over the last several years.
Cuomo traveled this week to Poland for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.