In a city that houses a wonder of the world in which every year thousands flock to see, a young Pakistani woman was assaulted because of ethnicity. A hate crime can be perpetrated against an individual, a group of individuals, or property: for example, a person or persons may be assaulted because of their race or religion; or property, such as a synagogue, could be de-faced in a bias-motivated incident.
In 2000 The Hate Crimes Act was passed with the intended goal to beef up the legislation already in place. Intentionally targeting a person based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation had been against the law, but in 2000 with the passing of this act committing a hate crime now came with stiff penalties.
NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services released its annual report on hate crimes for 2010 in July 2011. According to the report there were 699 hate crime incidents reported in NYS in 2010, which is an increase of 2%. Hate crimes against persons increased 29% while hate crimes against property declined 26%. Incidents with a race/ethnicity/national origin bias increased 11%, in 2010.
The breakdown by County is as follows as reported by NYS DCJS:
- Allegany: 1 (2009) & 0 (2010)
- Cattaraugus: 1 (2009) & 0 (2010)
- Chautauqua: 0 (2009) & 1 (2010)
- Erie: 47 (2009) & 50 (2010)
- Orleans: 0 (2009) & 1 (2010)
- Niagara: 7 (2009) & 2 (2010)
As shown by the numbers above most cities do not have an overt problem with hate crimes. This is reiterated by Niagara Falls Police Chief John R. Chella who believes that the hate crime committed in Niagara Falls this week may be the first of this year.
The crime happened in Niagara Falls on portage road. The victim reports that she was walking to meet her husband when two women in a van followed her and yelled ethnic and racial slurs. The 26 year old Pakistani woman wore a purple hijab, a head scarf typically worn by Muslim women. The harassment continued even after meeting her husband in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree store. The victim confronted the two women and asked why they were swearing at her, their response was to physically assault the woman, slapping her in the face, knocking her to the ground, repeatedly punching and kicking her, she suffered bruises, pain and swelling on her head and body.
Police were able to make an arrest in the case and Antoinette Ivey, 32, of 9th street was arrested and charged with 3rd degree assault as a hate crime, punishable with up to four years in state prison. The crime would normally be a misdemeanor but because it is classified as a hate crime it ups the ante so to speak. Police are still looking for the other woman in the van. The FBI has gotten involved in this case. Both the FBI and the Niagara Falls Police are actively searching for the second suspect.
If you have any information on the suspect still at large, you can reach them at 286-4553.
See the Buffalo News for more on the response from the Muslim Community
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