Graffiti could be added to the list of offenses which qualify for hate crime penalties. The bill unveiled by state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) comes following a surge of attacks on minority groups reported by the FBI, including recent incidents throughout the city since the election.
Under current New York state law, hate crimes currently consist of offenses entailing assault, grand larceny, menacing, harassment, and robbery, according to Rozic. While destruction of property can also qualify as a hate crime, vandalism that includes hate speech is missing from existing hate crime laws.
“We must send a strong message that our diverse communities will not stand for hate in any form,” Rozic said last Friday. “My new proposal would close the loophole and ensure appropriate penalties to prevent these criminal acts from becoming widespread. New York must lead by example and make it clear that hateful rhetoric, intimidation, and discrimination will not be tolerated by any means.”
The FBI report said hate crimes had risen 7 percent in the past year, while criminal acts of bigotry against Muslims had gone up 67 percent. About 6,000 hate crime incidents had been reported to law enforcement nationwide.
“Violence that seeks to divide and spread fear has no place in New York where inclusion and diversity will always be fought for and celebrated,” Rozic said.
At a news conference Dec. 16, Public Advocate Letitia James said acts of hate and violence since the presidential election have occurred in all five boroughs. Swastikas have appeared in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, according to the city official.
“This country and this city have experienced a surge in acts of hate and bias, and it’s following the most divisive election in modern history and tensions are boiling over,” James said. “We will respond as we have done, whenever necessary against acts of hate by showing solidarity, love, compassion and understanding.”
Rozic referred to the Nazi symbol, which appeared on the door of a dorm room at the New School and another that appeared on the campus of SUNY Geneseo. At New York University, a Muslim prayer room had the word “Trump” scrawled across the door in spray paint, according to Rozic.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall