Cuomo announces arrest of Saugerties man following alleged anti-Semitic incident at Mother Earth store

(Governor’s Office)

William Sullivan

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.

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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.”

There are 28 comments

  1. Klein

    This is ridiculous, and I’m going to weigh in here because anyone else who does will be chastised. My last name ends in “ein,” and I’m a 23andMe DNA confirmed 100% Jew. The guy made a tasteless joke and rightfully got fired from his job, in a very public and rightfully humiliating way. Is that not enough? Why does the the law need to be involved for something as inconsequential as a bad joke. Happy Purim by the way, hear Mother Earth’s has great hamentashen.

    1. Guest777

      No they didn’t. They transfered the victim to another department. Then her mother reached out for help via social. When the story blew up thats when they decided to act. Clearly just to save their own asses basically. They had a lot of chances to act accordingly before, but niw that their name is all over the Hudson valley in a bad light… NOW they have done something. Guess they also realized there are a number of alternate health food stores for people to go to loool. That store generally has a bad rep though, I have a few friends who worked there and had nothing but bad things to say. That’s MES for you. The victim deserves a public apology from them too.

      1. Lucy Johnson

        What this individual said is beyond disgusting. He should have been fired immediately. I understand from reading a different article that Mother Earth handled this very poorly and in fact did not fire him right away. I am so sorry this young woman had to endure this terrible, hateful incident.

        Having said that, I am very concerned that this despicable person was arrested. We don’t have hate speech laws in the U.S. And the communist state of NY, last I heard, is still part of the U.S. The First Amendment does not only apply to nice people we like. It also applies to despicable, ignorant individuals who should be rebuked for their remarks, but not arrested. anti-semitism is a huge and valid concern. But so is a megalomaniacal governor who thinks he’s an emperor and can flout the U.S. Constitution at will.

    2. Zinx

      No they threatened to fire the girl who reported it if she said anything. That place is toxic from what I’ve heard from most workers…

  2. Lea Cullen Boyer

    The good news is this is a wake up call for our laid back and lack luster police departments in Ulster and Greene. You all need to educate your cops in cars about hate crime and how to proceed. No other local police want to be spanked by the Governor for slacking.

    While your at it officers, better study up on rape protocol. You all will need to up your appropriate responses and stop the “boys will be boys” BS.

  3. Noel

    I’m a bar mitzvahed Jew
    This kid is a 21 year old knucklehead that did something stupid
    Cuomo is a desperate leech who wants nothing more than to run for President
    Total phony

  4. Zero Tolerance

    Klein, the post by the girl’s mother stated that her supervisor at Mother Earth instructed her not to mention it after the first incident, he was not fired immediately, and calling someone a f____ing Jew is in no way a joke, tasteless or otherwise. The employee/victim of antisemitic harassment was then assigned to the cash register. The harassment continued, and as an employee she has a right to work in a non-hostile environment. Maybe you’re a male who doesn’t understand how threatened a young women can feel by a larger hateful co-worker, maybe you haven’t taken into consideration that laws and legislation need to be in place AND enforced to instruct socially remedial members of a community what kind of behavior is and is NOT acceptable. Getting fired is not enough. Make sure people who wear their hatred as a badge of honor don’t have access to firearms.

    1. Klein

      You’re right she shouldn’t have had to move departments and he probably should have been fired immediately. She should sue Mother Earth’s in civil court and maybe get a restraining order against the guy, I would venture to guess her family probably knows a good lawyer 😉 I didn’t say it’s acceptable behavior but being a dick, even being hateful is not a criminal offence unless there is a direct call to action or someone has been assaulted psychically. It certainly isn’t a pretense to strip one of their constitutional rights. Someone “feeling threatened” doesn’t make something criminal. I would argue that going overboard on stuff like this leads to the exact opposite effect as you would like, it makes people more resentful and more apt to believe conspiracy theories that “Da Joos” have some kind of extra influence. We have the first amendment in this country, remember a Jewish ACLU lawyer defended the RIGHT of goosestepping Nazis to March through Skokie Illinois, the town with one of the largest populations of Holocaust survivors in the US. In Skokie it wasn’t a joke, it still wasn’t illegal.

  5. ProtectYourRights

    This is liberal propaganda at its worst. Comparing what this 23 year old did to the horrendous acts in New Zealand and Pittsburgh is absurd. Calling some one a name is protected by the 1st amendment. Per the article hate crimes increased 90% in NYS since 2016-17. That could be true if you started charging people with hate crimes when they call some one a name. While I don’t support what this guy said, I do not think it warrants ruining his life at 23 years old for political gain. You will never hear the outcome of this case because it won’t support Cuomo’s or the liberal false agenda.

    1. impeach cuomo

      Free Speech Rights

      Agreed, Cuomo should talk, he still has not got marijuana legal in New York.

      HOW MANY NY CITIZENS ARRESTED BY POLICE FOR MARIJUANA LAST WEEK? LAST MONTH? LAST YEAR?ANSWER THAT GOV CUOMO??? HOW MANY BLACK CITIZENS ARRESTED IN NEW YORK FOR POT LAST YEAR, ANSWER THAT GOV CUOMO.

      CUOMO SHOULD WORRIE MORE ABOUT THE PEOPLE ARRESTED BY COPS FOR MARIJUANA, THE RACIAL INEQUALITY OF BLACK MARIJUANA ARRESTS BY POLICE.

      CUOMO A TYPICAL CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT.

    2. Shana karney

      Agreed! He’s despicable and he acts like he cares about everyone but he certainly has No concern for human life as he allows for newborns to be killed. Evil.

  6. Sharon klein

    I’m ein too and it was not a joke. It’s time we stop and think about what hate comes out of our mouths.

    1. Klein

      Even if it wasn’t a joke and he sincerely wishes that we get rounded up and exterminated it doesn’t mean that turning the lights off in a cooler and calling someone a kike isn’t a criminal offence. Mother Earth’s handled the situation wrong and she should and could probably sue them and win, the guy was rightfully shamed publicly in the local press. However, being an asshole or a racist or an anti-semite isn’t against the law.

  7. Marjorose

    Not a hate crime!!!!! Shall we wait until a massacre occurs before we identify it as such??? One question I have is … where did William Sullivan learn his hate? Those who condone this behavior are equally responsible. Hate is a learned behavior. Let’s not forget this. This, indeed, was a hate crime and the fact that the manager and owners chose to ignore the severity of the incident not only speak to their ignorance but more importantly to their own hateful response on the issue. The owner needs to feel the financial (and if possible the legal) ramifications of their disregard. The manager needs to be fired as well!! People need to be held accountable for their actions AND inactions. I, for one, will never step foot in either of their places of business. Now that this has made headlines in more than a local newspaper, let the truth be told…….this is a hate crime.

  8. Penny

    I think it’s really good to see our government taking on anti-semitism and showing zero tolerance for hateful and thoughtless remarks and actions. I really hope that everyone of any persuasion or religion will recognize the inherent biases that come with their beliefs and confront those as well. When everyone decides to put aside intrenched biases and faulty religious and cultural tenets, the World can really start to live in harmony.

  9. David

    I was certainly a horrible thing to say but saying horrible things is not a crime unless it is a threat. If the “victim” had been black and the “perpetrator” was a white who “I’m going to sent you back to Africa you f–ing n—er” would the governor have shown up? Of course not. This was an offensive statement made by a young idiot. It isn’t a crime. The governor knows where a significant amount of his campaign funds come from. He should have better things to do with his time.

  10. D Kennedy

    Can’t get past the moderation. Free speech is dead. Let dummies like this expose them selves the court of public opinion can deliver swifter justice than any bureaucratic Cuomo brand fascism.

  11. Carl Frankel

    I was appalled by the government’s decision to intervene in this case. It is the worst sort of grandstanding.

    My knowledge of what happened is derived from two separate and rather lengthy conversations I had with Mother Earth management.

    Will, who was arrested, had a friendly relationship with Sara, the aggrieved party in this case. They often engaged in what the manager called “vulgar” banter, which I take to mean they said inappropriate things to each other because some friendships are built on testing limits. (When I say “fuck you” to a pal who’s ribbed me, that’s a very different “fuck you” from the one I say to the stranger at the bar after three drinks.) This led to an extremely ill-considered step over the line by Will.

    She got triggered, which is hardly surprising. Management tried to defuse the issue on the theory that this was a spat between friends and that a good conversation could clear the air once a full investigation had been conducted and the dust had settled. In hindsight, that was the wrong way to proceed, but it was predicated on the for me quite reasonable notion that this would be the best and most adult way to handle what had happened. One thing led to another. Will was fired because he disobeyed management’s directive not to engage Sara while their investigation was ongoing. Sara quit out of upset over how she and the matter had been handled.

    At which point, along comes Cuomo. I get that he wants to show tough on anti-Semitism. Good for him; he should; the times call for that. But this is overkill of the worst sort. You know how dogs can play-roughhouse, then one dog gets into a bit much, and the next thing you know it’s a fight? That appears to be what happened here. It was a learning opportunity for the young man and for the young woman. An opportunity to learn about boundaries, about tact and discretion, about history, about forgiveness. Now it’s been politicized and legalized, which is to say blown up and dehumanized. Both Sara and Will have become fodder for political point-scoring. It sucks for them both; being someone else’s dinner always sucks. And it sucks for Mother Earth as well.

    My life partner and I have something we call the “mean-funny line.” If you’re gonna say something mean to your partner, it’s gotta be funny, in which case it becomes okay, sort of, in direct proportion to the laughs or smiles it elicits. Will was messing with the mean-funny line. He blew it. Badly. Amends need to happen, apology and forgiveness. When the state intervenes, hardening happens—of the heart, of political positions. You get rhetoric and posturing instead of caring and compassion. Politicians should keep their big clumsy yeti feet out of these all-too-human transactions.

  12. Troy Hudson

    If the alleged had been fired after the first incident, his employer would have had to pay in unemployment insurance benefits. Now they are going to have to pay in “goodwill”, maybe even both? First time I’ve paid favorable attention to the Guv since he advocated weed-legalization. Not one but two State Troopers! Heavy.

  13. Quasimodo

    Thanks to the Gov and his State Troop Superintendent this kid can NOT get a fair and impartial trial in New York State anywhere in the state. And regardless of what he did, he is PRESUMED INNOCENT until PROVEN GUILTY in a Court of Law not the Internet or the News Media. And Cuomo just blew it.

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