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This entry was published on 2020-11-06
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SECTION 485.00
Legislative findings
§ 485.00 Legislative findings.

The legislature finds and determines as follows: criminal acts
involving violence, intimidation and destruction of property based upon
bias and prejudice have become more prevalent in New York state in
recent years. The intolerable truth is that in these crimes, commonly
and justly referred to as "hate crimes", victims are intentionally
selected, in whole or in part, because of their race, color, national
origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion,
religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. Hate crimes
do more than threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens. They
inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear
at the very fabric of free society. Crimes motivated by invidious hatred
toward particular groups not only harm individual victims but send a
powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the
group to which the victim belongs. Hate crimes can and do intimidate and
disrupt entire communities and vitiate the civility that is essential to
healthy democratic processes. In a democratic society, citizens cannot
be required to approve of the beliefs and practices of others, but must
never commit criminal acts on account of them. However, these criminal
acts do occur and are occurring more and more frequently. Quite often,
these crimes of hate are also acts of terror. The recent attacks in
Monsey, New York as well as the shootings in El Paso, Texas; Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and
Charleston, South Carolina illustrate that mass killings are often
apolitical, motivated by the hatred of a specific group coupled with a
desire to inflict mass casualties. The current law emphasizes the
political motivation of an act over its catastrophic effect and does not
adequately recognize the harm to public order and individual safety that
hate crimes cause. Therefore, our laws must be strengthened to provide
clear recognition of the gravity of hate crimes and the compelling
importance of preventing their recurrence.

Accordingly, the legislature finds and declares that hate crimes
should be prosecuted and punished with appropriate severity.