ADL Urges Court To Uphold New York Hate Crimes Act
Update: A New York appellate court ruling upheld the state’s Hate Crimes Act as covering crimes against both people and property.
New York, NY, December 8, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in an appeal of a conviction involving the first prosecution of a hate crime under the New York Hate Crimes Act.
Mazin Assi was found guilty of a hate crime for placing Molotov cocktails outside a Bronx synagogue. The case is currently on appeal, with the defendant arguing that he should not have been charged with a hate crime since his actions targeted a building, not a person.
Joel J. Levy, ADL New York Regional Director, issued the following statement:
There is no question that attacks or attempted attacks against synagogues, mosques, churches and other houses of worship are hate crimes. The plain language of the New York Hate Crimes Act, and public policy, confirms as much.
The perpetrators admitted that they targeted the synagogue out of anger toward the Jewish community. Hate crimes are unique in that they not only affect the individual target of the crime, but the entire community. Whether the actual victim was an individual person, or a house of worship, the vulnerability and fear is still felt by the community.
Last year, over half of the hate crimes reported in New York State were based on religious bias. These crimes, motivated by hate, simply cannot be tolerated and the Hate Crimes Act was designed to enhance penalties against those that target people and property.
In October 2000, on the eve of Yom Kippur – a day of fasting and prayer for Jews - Assi and several other men placed Molotov cocktails outside the Conservative Synagogue of Adath Israel of Riverdale.
The case represented the first time a hate crime was prosecuted under the New York Hate Crimes Act - legislation whose passage ADL advocated, and which was enacted in July 2000. The statute's plain language and public policy confirm that the Act covers crimes against property as well as individuals.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have passed hate crime statutes, many based on model legislation drafted by ADL.
The League's amicus brief was prepared by the law firm Chadbourne & Parke, LLP.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.