Anti-NYPD Graffiti Is Not Merely Vandalism, but a Hate Crime?

I don’t approve of vandalism and I don’t approve of hate crime laws. Punishments should be about action not about subjective motivations or group identity. Nevertheless, New York state has a hate crime law and the police (and presumably the District Attorney) are using it against a graffiti “artist.”


According to the New York Post, “Woman arrested for anti-NYPD graffiti.”

Rosella Best, 36, was caught on surveillance video tagging PS 31 near Lorimer and Mesorole streets around 5:30 a.m. Aug. 26, according to police. “NAZIS=NYPD,” a vandal spray-painted, along with a swastika, on a police car.

She was arrested Monday and charged with aggravated harassment, criminal mischief as a hate crime, which is considered a felony, cops said.

The woman scrawled other hate messages on and near a school in Williamsburg: “NYPD pick on the harmless” and “NYPD pick on the innocent.”

Wait. While I don’t approve of vandalism… how does accusing the NYPD of picking on the harmless and the innocent count as “hate messages.” Then this:

Cop-hating and anti-Semitic remarks were plastered on vans and scooters near the school, the sources said.

It would have been nice if we were given more details about the alleged “anti-Semitic” remarks since, as it stands, the story makes no sense. If she hates the NYPD and expresses this hatred by equating them with Nazis, then it would indicate she probably has a negative view of anti-Semitism.

Besides all that, how did the police become a protected class that gets to use hate crime laws against critics—even critics who are guilty of vandalism?

As Will Grigg explained,

Under Article 485 of New York Penal Law, a “hate crime” must involve “violence, intimidation [or] destruction of property” inspired by animus toward people on the basis of “race, color, national origin, ancestry. gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation.” Absent from that inventory is any mention of occupation as a “protected category,” which means that the NYPD must consider itself to be either a tribe, a cult, or perhaps even a sexual orientation, most likely one that fetishizes sadistic mistreatment of the helpless.

The statute also specifies that the offending act must be intended to “inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage” and be intended to “intimidate and disrupt entire communities….” By filing a hate crimes charge against Ms. Best, the NYPD is certifying that its rank and file consists of people who are wounded and intimidated by public criticism. If the bold and valiant badasses of the NYPD must be protected from words, they’re obviously ill-suited to protect the public, as if that noble calling were part of their actual job description.

So how can this law possibly be used against illegal graffiti for “anti-NYPD” messages?

I’m curious now. If I go to New York State, can I be arrested for saying that NYPD ripped insulin away from a diabetic child? Or that it seems suspicious that they arrested the man who video-recorded New York cops killing Eric Garner? Or that they are effectively a secret government?

I thought speech was protected. But apparently it is a hate crime.