ADC Welcomes Passage of Hate Crime Prevention Legislation

Washington, DC | September 27, 2007 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is happy to report that today a bill which provides for increased protection for all Americans, including Arab Americans, from being the victims of hate crimes passed in the Senate. ADC, along with a diverse coalition of over 200 civil rights, faith-based, women‘s, labor, GLBT, and law enforcement organizations, has campaigned in support of this landmark civil rights bill for a decade.
Introduced earlier this year, S. 1105, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) was attached as an amendment to a defense spending bill by its sponsors Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR). The Kennedy/Smith Amendment was adopted on a voice vote after a successful vote to end debate, also known as a cloture vote, of 60 to 39. The bill passed with bipartisan support as every Democratic senator voted for cloture as well as Republican Senators Collins (ME), Coleman (MN), Gregg (NH), Lugar (IN), Smith (OR), Snowe (WA), Specter (PA), Voinovich (OH), and Warner (VA). The House of Representatives passed a companion bill against hate crimes, H.R.1592, in May. However, President Bush has threatened to veto the underlying defense bill over disagreements concerning Iraq funding, increasing health care coverage for children, and inclusion of the hate crimes bill.
LLEHCPA will provide assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies to combat hate crimes and amend federal law to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of violent, bias-motivated crimes. While states would continue to play the primary role in prosecuting bias-motivated violence, the hate crimes bill would allow the federal government to address those cases in which local authorities are either unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute. This legislation only applies to bias-motivated violent crimes. It will not affect lawful public speech, preaching, or writing in any way. In fact, the legislation includes an explicit First Amendment free speech protection for the accused.
ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora said, “Arab Americans have experienced a surge in hate crimes directed against them over the past several years. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on our nation, the FBI documented a 1,600 percent increase in hate crimes against those perceived to be Muslim or Arab and a 130 percent increase in incidents directed at individuals on the basis of ethnicity or national origin. It should be noted that ADC continues to receive numerous calls for assistance from victims of hate crimes and discrimination. We hope President Bush will not veto the bill to which this legislation is attached.” Shora added, “ADC thanks the US Senate for passing this vital legislation which will help protect vulnerable communities and individuals from hate-motivated violence while explicitly preserving First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of expression.”
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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2008 (202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888
WASHINGTON — Adam J. Bonito and Christopher D. Giaquinto were charged
today in an one-count information for carrying out a criminal conspiracy
that interfered with the fair housing rights of two Muslim families
living in Revere, Mass. The defendants were charged in U.S. District
Court in Boston with repeatedly vandalizing and damaging vehicles parked
in front of the duplex home shared by the two families in 2004 and 2005.
The charging document alleges that the defendants conspired to vandalize
a van believed to belong to one of the residents in order to interfere
with the housing rights of the families because of their race, religion
or national origin. The intended victim was a member of an Arab Muslim
family living at a duplex residence in Revere.
On Sept. 19, 2004, the defendants, along with other co-conspirators not
named in the information, allegedly vandalized and damaged a Nissan van
parked outside the victims‘ home, breaking a windshield and several
windows and damaging the metal body of the van. On four subsequent
occasions during January and March of 2005, Bonito and another
conspirator vandalized a Dodge van, parked in front of the residence,
which they believed belonged to the same family, but which in fact
belonged to another Muslim family living in the same duplex.
In addition, federal juvenile delinquency proceedings have been
instituted against a third person involved in the conspiracy for his
bias-motivated acts of vandalism.
The charge set forth in an information is merely an accusation, and the
defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If convicted of the charge, Bonito and Giaquinto face a maximum sentence
of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine, one year supervised release, and
an unspecified amount of restitution for the victims. The case was
investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by S. Theodore Merritt,
Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Unit
in the District of Massachusetts, and Barry Kowalski, Special Legal
Counsel for the Criminal Section of the Justice Department‘s Civil
Rights Division.

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