Schumer: Need to increase federal security grant fund to protect places of worship
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday he would seek more funding for security at places of worship on Long Island and across the country after a hostage-taking at a Texas synagogue and other recent acts of intolerance .
At a press conference at Young Israel of Woodmere, Schumer, (DN.Y.) said the federal security grant program for nonprofits should be doubled in the next budget to 360. millions of dollars. The increase will allow more temples, mosques and churches to strengthen the security of their facilities, he said.
Funding from the program can be used for fortified doors and windows, surveillance cameras and contract security.
“We know these federal funds save lives and can keep the prayers focused,” Schumer said. “When people pray and reunite with God, you don’t have to look over your shoulder to worry if something bad happens.”
The demand is not unprecedented. Funding for the Security Grant Program has doubled from $90 million in 2020 to $180 million last year, with about 23% of allocated funds going to religious institutions in New York State, according to Schumer. .
But demand for silver continues to outstrip supply, he said. More than 2,000 nonprofit religious institutions have applied for grants since the program’s inception, but only about half have received funding.
Girish Patel, a BAPS Hindu temple leader in Melville, plans to apply for grants again after failing in recent years.
“We are really looking forward to applying for funding to secure our facilities so that people who come here with their families and children, seeking spiritual help, feel safe,” he said.
Long Islanders have seen an increase in acts of religious discrimination in the past year, including vandalism at the Suffolk County Islamic Center in Brentwood; trash and human waste thrown into a mosque in Hicksville, the attack on a Sikh boy in Huntington, and the assault on a Jewish man in Lawrence in Times Square.
“Funding security for all religious communities is no longer a luxury but is now an absolute and urgent necessity,” said Rabbi Shay Schachter, of Young Israel of Woodmere, which received $125,000 in grants for armed security guards, bulletproof windows and cameras. .
The lingering threat was made plain on January 15 at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. A man demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of attempting to kill US army officers in Afghanistan has taken four hostages. After an hour-long confrontation, the hostages were able to get out of the synagogue safely and the hostage-taker died of a gunshot wound, authorities said.
Scott Richman, director of the Anti-Defamation League for New York and New Jersey, said last year was among the highest on record for anti-Semitic incidents.
“That’s surely enough to scare us,” he said. “But if that fear means we stop going to synagogues or other Jewish institutions, then the terrorists or the anti-Semites have won. That would be the worst outcome.”
Facilities expected to apply for funding this year include the Islamic Center of Long Island, Hempstead Union Baptist Church and Westbury First Baptist Cathedral.
“When you have to fortify the sanctuary, it becomes an expensive business,” said Bishop Lionel Harvey, pastor of First Baptist Cathedral. “This is going to help so many people who need the kind of security; who need the kind of protection that will give us the feeling of peace in a place that should always be peaceful.”