Gov. Andrew Cuomo and acting State Police Superintendent Keith Corlett announced the arrest of 21-year-old William Sullivan of Saugerties, who was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment, a class A misdemeanor, following an alleged anti-Semitic incident at a local health food store.
The arrest is the result of an investigation into an incident that occurred March 13 at Mother’s Earth’s Storehouse on Kings Mall Court in Ulster. A female employee, who is Jewish, reported that she was in the cooler with another co-worker when Sullivan came into the doorway, shut off the lights, and made an anti-Semitic remark, “You’re in the gas chamber now,” followed by “You f—ing Jew.”
“Bias-related crimes, hate crimes, are not just wrong, they’re not just unethical, they’re not just immoral, they are illegal,” said Cuomo.
While he gave the caveat that this particular was only an allegation at this point, Cuomo took the occasion to speak about a rise in hate crimes. He said that from 2016-17, anti-Semitic attacks increased 60 percent nationwide and 90 percent in New York State. “We see a virus of hate that is spreading across this country, that is spreading across this globe,” said the governor, according to a transcript provided by his office. “We see anti-Muslim activity, what we just saw in New Zealand. We see anti-Semitism all across the country, recently in the Pittsburgh Synagogue. Anti-Latino activity, anti-Puerto Rico activity…”
He vowed to prosecute all hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.
“If you attack a Jewish person, you attack me. If you attack a Muslim person, you attack me. You attack an LGBTQ member, you attack me. That’s the New York credo.”
In his remarks, Superintendent Corlett restated the basic circumstances of the case, noting that the victim was “horrified” by the incident, mentioned that the investigation included the interview of one witness, and characterized the alleged incident as a “hate crime.”