Protesters Urge Padavan To Support Bias Bill – QNS.com

Protesters Urge Padavan To Support Bias Bill

Banner toting protesters armed with loud-speakers and megaphones descended upon the Bayside Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Station last Thursday (Mar. 25) to mount a demonstration against what they call Senator Frank Padavan’s opposition to a hate crimes bill in the State Senate.
"We feel it’s important to let the residents of Bayside, who have recently been victimized by a rash of spray paintings of swastikas on Jewish temple walls, know that their state senator does not support a hate crimes bill.," said Daniel Dromm, co-chair of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee. The evening rush hour event he helped co-ordinate was intended to inform home-bound commuters about their cause.
"We’re hoping Padavan will support a hate crimes bill. It’s unfortunate if people are not supportive of this," added picketer Bella Laffer of Flushing as she firmly held on to the walker which helped her move around more easily behind the blue police barricades.
Laffer and fellow protesters want to see enacted the "Bias-Related Violence or Intimidation Act," a bill that would increase penalties for individuals who commit crimes based upon a victim’s race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
"We want to call attention to all the victims of hate related violence and demand that Senator Padavan support legislation that his constituents desperately want and need,’ said Lois Marbach chairperson of Queens Coalition for Political Alternatives, another sponsor of the event.
"I’m not gonna comment on it," Senator Padavan told The Queens Courier on the heels of the Thursday evening display at a ceremony at the nearby Bayside Historical Society, where he swore in the new officers of the preservation group.
"(It’s) totally uncalled for," said Ed DeCosmo, a spokesman for Senator Padavan about the protest which targeted the Bellrose Republican.
Citing that the Senator has in the past been the co- sponsor of a bill that would allow discretion up to the judge on whether or not to increase penalties in a bias related case, DeCosmo explained that this specific bill could could present a potentially troubled situation for criminal trial defendants since it would be the first time that a crime would be established based on the mental state of an individual.
Prior to the protest, Senator Leonard Stavisky, a proponent of the bias related bill issued a statement claiming that "it is imperative that we punish those who assault others simply because of who they are."
According to Stavisky’s office, in New York City, reports of bias crimes increased 81 percent in 1998 despite reported drops in other types of crime.
"For the longest time, we have heard the argument that a crime should be punished regardless of the victim’s identity, and that thought should never be punished," said Stavisky adding that "when a thought turns to violence, and if the victims are being attacked solely because who they are, and would not have been attacked otherwise, then the logic of those who oppose hate crimes legislation flies out the window. These crimes are not only against individuals, but against entire communities."
Stavisky, a Flushing Democrat, claimed that in the past, the bill has cleared the Assembly but has not been allowed on to the Republican dominated Senate floor for a vote

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