City Council to Consider Proposed Hate Crime Ordinance

The Mayor and Tucson City Council tomorrow will consider whether to create a new misdemeanor hate crime/institutional vandalism ordinance. The final language of the proposed ordinance, first discussed last month, would impose heightened penalties on criminals who target their victims based on specific criteria.

The State of Arizona has a statute for hate crimes, but it only applies to felonies committed under Arizona law. It does not apply to misdemeanors or violations of local ordinances.

The code amendments proposed for the City of Tucson classify a hate crime as "the commission of any misdemeanor offense  relating to assault, criminal damage, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, endangerment, harassment, threats and intimidation, unlawful imprisonment, or graffiti that is motivated by malice toward a victim based on the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, ethnicity, familial status, and/or marital status."

The proposed ordinance would establish certain minimum penalties, including mandatory jail time of at least 10 days for a first offense and a minimum $100 fine. Punishment would increase for future offenses.

The ordinance also would add health care facilities to the list of “institutional vandalism.”