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Bill deems damage to graves a bias crime

State Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Burlington) has introduced legislation that would, if passed in the Legislature and signed into law, allow people who intentionally desecrate grave sites to be charged with bias intimidation.

“Recent cemetery attacks in the national news have all had an element of bias intimidation, targeting and desecrating Jewish cemeteries,” Dancer said.

Dancer said that in February, approximately 100 monuments or markers were destroyed or damaged at a Philadelphia cemetery.

“These are not incidents of vandalism. These are hate crimes and an attack on the Jewish people in our country,” he said.

According to the bill, defacing or damaging graves is a fourth degree offense. If bias intimidation is found, the charge is elevated to third degree, punishable by five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

“This reprehensible behavior cannot be accepted. Intolerance, bigotry and hatred are diseases that spread like viruses. It is crucial to fight every form of racial and religious bias,” Dancer said.

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