ALBANY, NY– Only a few days after introducing the legislation, Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) passed legislation to create a specified offense for graffiti making as a hate crime. The passage of Carlucci's bill comes on the heels of threats made against four New York Jewish Community Centers early last week, and incidents of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim graffiti on mass transit. Nationally, a wave of anti-Semitic incidents has occurred, with 100 bomb threats called into JCCs and acts of cemetery desecration as recent as last week in Rochester.
Carlucci's bill adds this criminal offense to the hate crime statute and would elevate the penalty by one degree, to a class E felony, when graffiti is made that targets a person's race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person. Anyone guilty of committing this crime can now be punished with up to 4 years in prison.
"Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in attacks on people solely based on their religion and their identity. Its outrageous to think that this is happening in our community and across the nation. And in New York we have to take a zero tolerance stance against this. Imagine a student showing up to school and seeing a swastika painted on the fence or a LGBT teen seeing a hateful slogan painted on the wall in their community saying that they're not welcome. That is not who we are as New Yorkers and that is why it is so important that we stand united together with all of those who have been victimized. We are not going to tolerate it and we are not going to allow people to be intimidated simply for who they are. In New York we have always been a beacon of freedom and liberty and now we need to show an example and really pave the way for the rest of their nation to show that we won't allow intimidation and hate to resonate in our community or anywhere in the state," said Senator Carlucci
Under current law, a person commits a hate crime when he or she intentionally commits the act because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person. Specified offenses that may currently constitute a hate crime include assault, menacing, strangulation, manslaughter, stalking, criminal sexual act, criminal sexual abuse, kidnapping, criminal mischief, arson, grand larceny, robbery, and aggravated harassment.
However, making graffiti, such as a swastika sign on a person's property, is not currently a specified hate crime offense and would be if this bill passes the Assembly and is signed into law.