ADL Welcomes Decision Upholding New York Hate Crimes Act

New York, NY, April 1, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the New York Court of Appeals decision to uphold the state's Hate Crimes Act as covering crimes against property, as well as against people.

In October 2000, on the eve of Yom Kippur – a day of fasting and prayer for Jews – the defendant and several other men placed Molotov cocktails outside the Conservative Synagogue of Adath Israel of Riverdale. The defendant admitted he acted in order to send an anti-Israel message to the Jewish community, but contended that his act was not a hate crime because it targeted a building, not a person.

"This decision makes it clear that attacks or attempted attacks against synagogues, mosques, churches and other houses of worship are not exempt from New York's hate crime laws," said Ron Meier, ADL New York Regional Director. "Attacks such as the one in this case affect entire communities and therefore are rightly prosecuted as hate crimes."

In its decision, the court rightly held that, "although the target of defendant's criminal conduct was a building, the true victims were the individuals of Jewish faith who were members of the synagogue." The court also correctly determined that the legislature clearly intended for crimes against property to be covered by the state hate crimes act. 

This case involved the first hate crime prosecution under the New York Hate Crime Act. ADL, which drafted the model legislation upon which the New York Hate Crime Act was based, actively advocated for its passage in 2000.

ADL filed briefs as amicus curiae in the both the Appellate Court and in the New York Court of Appeals. The League argued 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 briefs, prepared by David M. Raim, Philip J. Goodman and Kate McSweeny of the law firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP, may be found here (New York Court of Appeals) and here (New York Appellate Division, First Department).

More from this Section