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In recent years, the Jewish and Israeli-American communities in Massachusetts have been the targets of antisemitic and national origin discrimination, harassment, and violent hate crime. Incidents range from persistent and ongoing harassment of Jewish and Israeli students on campus to violent attacks, escalating in one recent case of attempted murder of a rabbi.

Current law in Massachusetts provides limited protection for victims of hate crime, including victims targeted on the basis of race, religion, or national origin, and offenses that violate an individual’s Constitutional rights, damages property or cause physical harm.

This bill contains two updates to current law to hold perpetrators of hate crimes accountable – adding hate crime enhancements for (1) battery and (2) second or subsequent offenses with a dangerous weapon that results in bodily injury. In current law, for these two offenses, there is no hate crime enhancement.

Penalties: this bill includes changes to two, important revisions from current law:

o   Hate crime battery – kept the enhanced penalty, which is in line with other current battery enhancements, to distinguish between simple battery and hate crime battery; without this distinction, the data will be inaccurate; and,

o   A new offense for those with a history of convictions for battery, while using a dangerous weapon that results in bodily injury, reserved for serious offenders.

The bill also continues to provide support for hate crime prevention programs and requires law enforcement agencies to provide hate crime data to the Massachusetts State Police.

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