Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler, joined by Rabbi Rachel Rubenstein of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County (JFGOC), presented “Speak Up to Stand Up Against Hate” to high school students during two assemblies on Monday, Feb. 4.
“This program encourages teenagers and adults to confront the uncomfortable dialogue that occurs every day in our society,” Mr. Hoovler said in a statement. “By engaging in that dialogue like we did today at Minisink Valley, we can highlight diversity and educate the students about speech that is unacceptable and even illegal.”
“Speak UP to Stand Up Against Hate” is offered in partnership with and funding from JFGOC. “We are committed to building an Orange County where we can truly say that hate is not welcome here,” said Rabbi Rubenstein who also addressed the students.
First Amendment rights were a centerpiece of DA Hoovler’s presentation.
“With this right comes great responsibility for us as citizens in our community, and with each other,” DA Hoovler said. “Speech that can hurt people can be limited, and you can be criminally prosecuted for it after the age of 16.”
A hate crime is defined as a crime where the victims are intentionally selected, in whole or in part, because of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion or religious practice, age, disability, or sex orientation.
“When you target someone you’re not only hurting them, you can be jeopardizing your future, and your chances to be successful in life,” DA Hoovler cautioned.
The presentation was followed by a Q&A session and students were encouraged to participate. “First thing, you have to be willing to feel uncomfortable, and you have to be willing to talk about it,” DA Hoovler said. Students also approached Mr. Hoovler after his presentation with additional questions.
Minisink Valley District and High School express their appreciation to District Attorney Hoovler and Rabbi Rubenstein for making the time to raise our students’ awareness about hate crimes and the lifelong impact they can have.
The “Speak Up to Stand Up Against Hate” program includes a guide with advice for parents. If you would like to request a copy, please contact the Counsel to the District Attorney, Robert Conflitti, by email or by phone: DACommunityAffairs@orangecountygov.com / (845) 291-2050.
To report a hate crime, residents can call the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Hotline at 1-800-378-1411.