State Bill That Would Expand What Offenses Are Deemed Hate Crimes Introduced

The Hate Crime Modernization Act would increase the amount of eligible hate crimes from 66 to 97, in addition to enhancing charges and some sentences. Leading sponsors include Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, and State Assemblymember Grace Lee.

| 07 Nov 2023 | 12:31

A newly introduced bill dubbed the Hate Crime Modernization Act intends to expand what offenses are deemed hate crimes, namely by increasing the total range of eligible charges from 66 to 97. The legislation is sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and State Assemblymember Grace Lee, with the backing of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

This comes as 2022 saw a record amount of recorded hate crime incidents in NYC, 650 in total, and as various law enforcement agencies warn that antisemitic and Islamophobic crimes are on the rise.

Citing an “antiquated penal code,” the Manhattan D.A.’s office noted the loopholes it hopes to close with the new hate crime legislation, including exclusions for: Gang Assault, Making Graffiti, Sex Trafficking, Labor Trafficking, False Reporting, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, and some other sex crimes.

Hoylman-Sigal represents parts of the UWS and Chelsea, while Lee represents Chinatown and the LES. Organizations representing various faiths and ethnicities have lent their support to the measure.

“As we witness an unprecedented rise in bias-motivated crimes against Jewish, Muslim, Asian American and LGBTQ people, it’s of utmost importance that New York closes the dozens of loopholes in our hate crime statute to send the urgent message that hatred won’t be tolerated in our state,” Holyman-Sigal proclaimed in a statement.

”I am an Asian American legislator representing Chinatown, a community which has been at the epicenter of anti-Asian hate,” note Lee. “Addressing hate in all its forms is important to vulnerable communities and the legislature needs to ensure our laws are equipped to do that,” Lee noted.

Bragg, the man equipped to execute the laws, observed that “hate crimes have profound physical, emotional and psychological effects that jeopardize the safety of New Yorkers and tear at the fabric of our communities.” He added that “this legislation will strengthen our laws to reflect a clearer and better understanding of what constitutes a hate crime and give us more tools to bring hate crimes charges in the broad range of cases we see in our practice.”