Below is a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office:
BOSTON, MA — Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, Senator Cynthia Stone Creem and Representative Christine Barber have filed a bill this legislative session to expand the “hate crime” statute to provide more protections for renters or other individuals targeted at their homes or property for their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability regardless of whether or not they own that property.
As incidents of hate and bias continue to rise on a national level, this legislation is a step forward in ensuring safety and security for everyone in all of our cities and towns. Recognizing that these are community issues, this bill would give law enforcement the tools to hold individuals accountable for intentional acts meant to discriminate and intimidate.
The bill takes an additional step to ensure that, if restitution is paid for the damaged property to its owner, restitution must be used to restore the damage so that it no longer intimidates the intended victim(s).
“Currently, the law allows for us to charge a person for damaging property only if the victim who they intended to intimidate owns that property. This does a tremendous disservice to victims,” said District Attorney Ryan. “People deserve to feel safe in their own homes regardless of whether they own the property. Survivors of these types of crimes can have lasting trauma and psychological impacts that can further be compounded if action is not taken to restore the damage that was done to target them.”
“Hateful incidents have been on the rise across the Commonwealth in recent years,” said Senator Cindy Creem (D. Newton). “We must ensure that our laws protect those who are the target of these despicable acts regardless of whether they own the property that was damaged or defaced to intimidate them.”
“I am proud to be a champion for this legislation, which holds perpetrators of discrimination and intimidation accountable for their actions and promotes safety and security statewide. This bill takes necessary steps towards combating hate and ensuring people in our communities feel safe and valued,” said Representative Christine Barber.
The proposed bill addresses the gap in the law by adding language to the current statute that would criminalize damaging the property “of another” with intent to intimidate. The language was drafted to be inclusive of incidents of hate that would include damaging or placing racial slurs or graffiti on an apartment building, a college dormitory or even a neighboring building that may be located near a victim if the property damage was done with explicit intent to intimidate.
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