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Mayor Bowser Signs Legislation to Expand Protections from Crimes Motivated by Hate

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Bowser has signed legislation to expand protections against clear displays of hateful symbols. The Community Harassment Prevention Emergency Amendment Act of 2018 makes it unlawful to display symbols of hate, such as a Nazi swastika, a noose, or a burning cross, on public property or someone else’s property.

“Intolerance, bigotry, and hate have no place in Washington, DC,” said Mayor Bowser. “We value and celebrate our diversity and inclusivity, and with this legislation we are sending a strong message that Washington, DC will not tolerate attempts to intimidate or harass our residents and visitors.”

In 2017, more than a dozen nooses were displayed throughout Washington, DC, including at construction sites, a university, and federal museums and monuments. While these nooses evoked memories of our nation’s reprehensible history with lynching, unfortunately, regardless of any intent to threaten or cause fear, some of the incidents did not qualify as a crime under District law because of the type of property on which they were displayed.

The current “display of emblems” statute only covers private premises or property in the District primarily used for religious, educational, residential, memorial, charitable, cemetery purposes, or any public property. By expanding the current law to apply to any public property or private property of another without permission, the legislation provides additional recourse in cases of displays of certain symbols of hate.

The Community Harassment Prevention Emergency Amendment Act of 2018 was introduced by Mayor Bowser on November 28, 2018, approved by the Council of the District of Columbia on December 18, 2018, and transmitted to the Mayor on January 23, 2019.