Gov. Gavin Newsom attends a pep rally to celebrate the second year of the Roybal Film and Television Production School in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, 2023. (Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Entertainment Industry Foundation)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has approved millions in state funding to boost security at places of worship across the state amidst the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
The governor announced
Oct. 18 he authorized $10 million to immediately increase such police presence, which will be reimbursed to local governments, to help ensure Californians feel safe to worship, in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack of Hamas on locations in Israel.
More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed as of Oct. 19, with 4,600 injured, according to figures reported by Israeli officials.
Since the initial attack, at least 3,700 Palestinians have been killed and 12,500 injured, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health reported in a press conference Oct. 19.
“Amid the horror unfolding in the Middle East following the unconscionable terrorist attacks in Israel, California is authorizing the immediate deployment of funds to increase security and police presence at places of worship across the state,” Mr. Newsom stated in the press release. “No matter how and where one prays, every Californian deserves to be safe.”
The announcement comes as local groups express concern over possible violent attacks and hate crimes amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Groups on both sides of the issue said they were grateful for the governor’s actions.
Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)—both co-chairs of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus—said the resources will make a “huge difference” and send a “powerful message” in their community.
“We are deeply grateful to Governor Newsom for his long standing solidarity with the Jewish community and for standing with us in word and in deed during these challenging times. California cannot stand idly by while the Jewish community or any other vulnerable community is threatened by hate and extremism,” said the co-chairs in an Oct. 18 statement
In the same statement, Hussam Ayloush, CEO of Council on American-Islamic Relations California, praised the governor’s “proactive measures.”
“California Muslims are increasingly anxious as we observe dangerous rhetoric that continues to dehumanize Palestinians and Muslims, and which leads to a rise in anti-Muslim incidents targeting students, employees, and everyday Muslims in their homes or on the street,” he said. “Everyone deserves to be safe.”
The governor also said the state will invest another $20 million in an existing grant program to provide security enhancements to nonprofit organizations considered high risk for violent attacks and hate crimes, including synagogues and mosques.
The program in question—called the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program—was established
in 2018 to provide funding for security enhancements to nonprofits “at high risk for violent attacks and hate crimes due to ideology, beliefs, or mission.”
According to Mr. Newsom’s office, the additional funding doubles the available funds from $20 million to $40 million.
Nonprofits have until Oct. 27 to apply for funding under the program.