City Council Passes Bill to Increase Fine to $1,000 for Vandalism of Houses of Worship

City Council Passes Bill to Increase Fine to $1,000 for Vandalism of Houses of Worship

The City Council unanimously passed a bill today that would increase from $500 to $1,000 the criminal penalties for defacing shuls and other houses of worship.

    The bill’s passage comes just two and a half weeks after vandals hurled rocks through the window and glass doors of shuls in the neighborhood of Riverdale in Bronx late at night on April 25, which was Motzei Shabbos.

    According to security footage that was reviewed by the Community Security Service, a volunteer synagogue security group, the same suspect also vandalized two of the other shuls earlier in the week.

    “Every New Yorker deserves to feel secure in practicing their faith,” said Councilman Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx), who sponsored the bill.  “We at the council today demonstrated our duty to stand and staunchly defend religious liberty in our great city.” 

     In response to acts of vandalism against the shuls, Gov. Andrew Cuomo instructed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation, and the NYPD increased its presences around the synagogues.

   The bill would take effect 60 days after it is signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has said through a spokesman that he plans to sign the legislation, but he did not say when.

     In December 2020, two vandals were caught on surveillance cameras spray-painting a swastika on the outside of Mesilas Bais Yaakov High School in South Slope, Brooklyn. 

     “Despicable,” Mayor de Blasio tweeted about the anti-Semitic graffiti at the time. “This kind of hatred has no home in our city.”

    “An attack on any synagogue is an attack on all synagogues, all Jewish institutions, and all houses of worship,” read a mass email sent Sunday by the Riverdale Jewish Community Partnership, an umbrella neighborhood group. “We will stand strong against hate and will continue to celebrate being Jewish, engage in our personal, institutional and communal activities and support one another.”

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