Update: April 2010: The New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, upheld the state's Hate Crimes Act as covering crimes against property, as well as against people. More>>
New York, NY, March 27, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed a New York appellate ruling that upheld the state's Hate Crimes Act as covering crimes against both people and property.
The case, The People of New York v. Mazin Assi, involved the first hate crime prosecution under the New York Hate Crimes Act. The defendants, who were charged with placing Molotov cocktails outside of a Bronx synagogue in October 2000, had argued in part that their act was not a hate crime because it targeted a building, not a person.
Joel J. Levy, ADL New York Regional Director, issued the following statement:
The ruling confirms that regardless of whether a person or a building is targeted, if bias is the motivating factor, the crime may be charged as a hate crime.
Last year, over half of the hate crimes reported in New York State were based on religious bias. This decision leaves no doubt that bias crimes against synagogues, mosques, churches and other houses of worship can be prosecuted as hate crimes in New York.
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, fear and isolation felt by the community is the same.
ADL, which drafted the model legislation upon which the New York Hate Crime Act was based and actively advocated for its passage in 2000, argued in an amicus brief that the statute's plain language, the legislative purpose at the time of its passage, and public policy confirm that the New York Hate Crime Act covers crimes against property. The League's brief, prepared by the law firm Chadbourne & Parke, LLP, may be found here.