In the wake of recent documented appearances of nooses in the State and around the United States, the Senate passed legislation on Monday (October 22) to make it a felony to etch, paint, draw or otherwise place or display a noose on public or private property. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) who remarked,
This is a vile act that must be dealt with harshly. There is no place for racism and intimidation in America and this rash of incidents clearly demonstrates the need for tough new penalties. The Senate passed a bill today to make displaying a noose a felony and I encourage the Assembly to reconvene and pass this legislation as soon as possible.
Recently a noose was discovered in the locker room at the Hempstead police station on Long Island and in the basement of the Hempstead town garage, while another was found on the door of a Columbia University Teachers College professor in Manhattan. The issue has also received national attention in the wake of the “Jena 6” case in Louisiana, in which a group of six black teenagers were charged with beating a white teenager at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana. The beating followed a number of racially-charged incidents in the town, including an incident in which three white students hung nooses from a tree at Jena High school.
The anti-noose legislation (S6499) would amend New York’s aggravated harassment statute (Penal Law Section 240.31) to make it a class E felony to etch, paint, draw, place or display a noose with intent to threaten, intimidate or harass. In 2006, in response to similar past incidents involving swastikas and burning crosses, the State Legislature supported and former Governor Pataki approved amending the State’s penal law to make the use of those symbols a crime. The bill was sent to the Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Lentol.