New legislation would expand what can be deemed a hate crime in New York


Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. and several other lawmakers have teamed up to introduce new state legislation for New York that would increase the number of charges eligible for hate crime enhancement.

Key details: Announced on Monday, the newly introduced legislation, called the Hate Crimes Modernization Act, will see the number of charges eligible for hate crime enhancement be increased from 66 to 97.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office noted in a press release that the Hate Crimes Modernization Act will “close current loopholes in state law.”

“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,” Bragg said in a statement.

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Delivering the news: Bragg unveiled the new proposed plan at his office alongside Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, New York City Councilmember Keith Powers and the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, to name a few.

Other community leaders and organizations were also present, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) and the Asian American Federation (AAF).

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Joint proposal: Joining Bragg in the newly introduced legislation are Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-NY) and New York State Assemblymember Grace Lee, who is also from the Democratic party.

“We understand that there is no single solution to eliminating hate; this is a complex issue that requires a diversified and holistic approach,” Lee said. “This bill is one necessary step to help address hate and hold those who commit hate crimes accountable.”

Why it matters: The Hate Crimes Modernization Act will provide key updates to the current New York State hate crimes statute and will encompass other charges that were previously not eligible for the enhancement, such as gang assault, making graffiti, sex trafficking, labor trafficking, false reporting, criminal possession of a weapon, and certain other sex crimes, the press release noted.

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The proposal comes at a time when New York City saw a record-high 650 reported hate crimes in 2022. Hate crime cases have continually increased across the city and state since 2015.

A welcoming city: In a statement, Powers acknowledged the increase of hate crime incidents in the city over the past year and the need to act.

“Over the summer I called for modernizing the state’s hate crime statue to close certain loopholes, and this legislation does just that. It will provide us with another tool to ensure these crimes are prosecuted appropriately and our city remains welcoming to everyone," he said.

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