2005-09-02 / Community

Addabbo: Harsher Penalties For Hate Crime

Responding to the recent rash of graffiti painted on houses of worship, City Council Member Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. recently announced that he has cosponsored legislation in the council that would increase penalties for vandalizing houses of religious worship or religious articles contained therein.

“I’m disgusted by graffiti in general but hate crime graffiti is totally unacceptable. None of us should stand for it,” said Addabbo.            

The councilman said he was pushing for the tougher legislation for the graffiti vandals who desecrate houses of worship because, “if we just give them a slap on the wrist it doesn’t send a strong enough message that we will not tolerate the desecration of our houses of worship.”

According to the city’s official website, Addabbo’s legislation states that “Any person who willfully defaces or otherwise damages any house of religious worship or any portion thereof including religious figures or religious monuments, or any book, scroll, ark, furniture, ornaments, musical instrument, article of silver or plated ware, or any other item contained therein for use in connection with religious worship, or any person who knowingly aids, abets, conceals or in any way assists any such person will be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year or by a fine of not more than two thousand five hundred or less than five hundred dollars, or both.”

In addition, any person violating the law will be subject to a civil penalty of not less than ten thousand dollars and not more than twenty-five thousand dollars. 

Such civil penalties will be imposed in addition to any criminal penalties and/or sanctions that may be imposed, and such civil penalties would not limit or preclude any cause of action available to any person or entity aggrieved by such action.

In calling for the passage by the council of his legislation Addabbo said that last October six swastikas were painted on the side of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center in Howard Beach.  Police said the vandal, who was subsequently arrested, defaced over 20 sites throughout Brooklyn and Queens.  Addabbo said that also during the past year the walls of a former synagogue in South Ozone Park were defaced with anti-Semitic writings. 

The councilman noted that religious vandalism to churches and synagogues occur throughout the city every day and he hopes that the proposed legislation would eventually decrease the crime by increasing the penalty.

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