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Police in Newton investigate defacing, destruction of signs supporting Israelis taken hostage by Hamas as a hate crime

Newton Police report on the signs along Homer Street:

Initial reports revealed several lawn signs were defaced with spray paint, and personal property was damaged; The incident is being investigated as a hate crime due to the underlying crimes specifically targeting the victims of a protected class.

The signs, many of which showed photos of Israelis taken hostage on Oct 7, were part of a 100-foot-long mural two residents erected on the street.

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Comments

..aren't people. Disgusting vandalism yes. But the definitions of hate crime seem to be applied so loosely these days and before even intent can be assessed. Who are the victims? The people of homer street? How can it be proved they were targeted for their background (which is unstated) and not their political beliefs? Etc

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The victims of the crime are the home owners.

Allegations need proof if the perpetrators are found and charged. There may well be evidence that wasn't mention in this article. Proof is for the trial stage, not the investigation stage (which is the stage where proof/evidence is searched for).

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This isn't where some people confusing "never again" with "it's our turn" were plastering stuff all over public property and then crying foul when it was taken down like any other plastering of nonsense on public property.

Even if I seriously disagree with what you say, if this is on your private property you have a right to that display.

It isn't any different from the clearly reality-challenged person on the Melrose/Wakefield line (google blurred it, unfortunately) who gets to have their orange guy shrine and deranged hate spew garden, or the Church of the Holy Hatred in Medford Square and their obsessive homophobic and transphobic marquee. Or the local landscaper who nearly lost his business due to natural consequences over his "nobama" bullshit.

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...isn't people, either, right? It's just a building, so graffiti on the side would just be vandalism, right?

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No. Borrowing Black victimhood to claim victimhood here is gross.

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Comprehensive list of acceptable hate speech, which is what you're suggesting.

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Jews have faced centuries of discrimination along with the systematic murder of 6 million people less than 80 years ago. It's not as if so-called progressive politicians still use anti-Semitic language or tropes, right?

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If there was similar graffiti on the supermarket next to the black church? Then maybe not a hate crime…

interesting question, since the statute refers to damaging "the real or personal property of a person with the intent to intimidate such person" indicating the the property owner must be a member of the class of person hated. I don't think it has to be worded that way, but it is.

if some of the shareholders of the supermarket company were subjects of the epithets that would qualify. It could be a complicated element of proof if property was leased

Note the phrase "with the intent to intimidate such person". If some of the shareholders are the supermarket company are members of the group being disparaged or threatened, would the yahoos even know it?

malicious or wanton destruction of property with a value under $1200.

So charging the act as a hate crime is not the only legal remedy.

The signs are "personal property" the wilful destruction of which falls under GL 265 s39, the hate crime law.

Question for the jury under ch 265 s39 would be whether the vandal had "the intent to intimidate such person [the property owner] because of such person's race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability" or was just expressing anger at Israeli policy in Gaza and the West Bank.

Proving the specific intent of an actor can be very difficult for the prosecution and require circumstantial evidence like social media postings and other statements. Circumstantial evidence can also refute the prosecution.

Charging political vandalism as a hate crime can be a slippery slope. In 1983, some peace and anti-nuclear weapons activists entered a defense contractor's facility in Wilmington and poured blood over some papers and blueprints. They were charged with malicious destruction of property and erroneously convicted of wanton destruction of property.

Could that be now charged as a felony "hate crime" against Americans? What if you did that today at the Israeli military contractor Elbit Systems in Cambridge? Would it be charged as a hate crime?

Trump wins in 2024 - the DOJ charges you with a hate crime against elderly white males for vandalizing a "Trump 2028 - The Only Choice" sign in Stoneham.

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Defacing propaganda for an ongoing genocide is not a hate crime.

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If you think kidnapping, killing, and raping people is OK or justified, you aren't actually opposed to genocide.

Either you want violence in the region to end or not.

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It's hard to believe I have to say this, but kidnapping civilian non-combatants is a war crime. It's also outrageous to not let the International Red Cross visit and provide needed medications that the families of hostages want to send them. There are still young children and elderly people being held (at least we hope they're still alive).

I know people with various opinions of what is happening who still hope for the return of the hostages and support posters reminding the world of their existence. I assume that if people broke into your family's home and kidnapped your loved ones you'd want them back. That's what these posters are about.

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In Israel, the hostage posters and demonstrations for the hostages are more associated with opposition to the Netanyahu government, because he and his gang don't seem to gaf about the hostages.

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It matters a little bit that in this case, they're yard signs, not posters stuck onto telephone poles.

(I'm not making comment on the contents of your comment -- just a correction to an assumption that I made as well.)

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The point of missing persons posters is so that if you see them, you can report their whereabouts. The hostages are almost certainly not in Massachusetts, so any posters do not help the hostages in that way. I don't think it's necessarily in support of the Israeli military actions either, but that just makes it more confusing what they're supposed to accomplish.

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Why did we have George Floyd signs in MA? Since this isn't Minnesota of course. Why did the USA's first lady hold a "bring back our girls" sign if they weren't "our" girls? Why do we say "never again" if we aren't Germany? What a pedantic and unempathetic worldview.

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Putting faces to the hostages makes them more than a statistic. People feel more empathy for a face than for a number.

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You get to do "propaganda" on your own property. If you are a renter, you get to do "propaganda" in your own windows even if your landlord disagrees.

Some people think BLM signs are propaganda. Or Biden signs, etc. Or Bernie parka/mittens signs. Whatever.

The ones on public property needed to go, yes. But this is clearly free expression, no matter how much anyone else seems to disagree with their sentiment.