Worker accused of hate crime in Niagara Falls

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Worker accused of hate crime in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS — A white, 26-year employee of the city’s Public Works Department was charged Friday with a hate crime as part of an investigation into the posting of a racially motivated sign. A wider inquiry, which involves agencies that include the state attorney general’s office, continues into possible discrimination in the city’s work force.

James Curtis, 52, of 80th Street, has been charged with second-degree aggravated harassment under the hate crime category, police said. The hate-crime designation turns the class A misdemeanor into a class E felony.

Earlier this month, a city employee working a night shift in the public works yard on New Road found a “whites only” sign on a drinking fountain.
Curtis could not be reached to comment Friday, but in an interview broadcast by WIVB-TV, he apologized for his actions, which he said he intended to be a joke.

Some joke, though I’m not sure being a moron automatically rises to the level of a felony. The law reads:

“A person is guilty of aggravated harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she: … communicates with a person … in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm.”

Well, hell’s bells, if that isn’t a broad statute. Some days it seems like people are communicating in a manner likely to cause me annoyance all day long. I didn’t know I could have them arrested.

Hey, it’s just a joke. What’s the harm? Honestly, some people are just so sensitive.

Well, it’s hardly “just a joke”. The guy deserves to be disciplined or maybe even fired, but a felony – no.

every crime is a hate crime. to me imposing a stiffer penalty for motive is the most unconstiontal thing ever imagined. it completely throws away ‘all men are created equal’. anyone who believes in hate crime laws obviously believes gays, women and minorities are lesser than white men, hence they need extra protection.

every crime is a hate crime.

You think there’s no difference between negligent homicide and a planned murder?

to me imposing a stiffer penalty for motive is the most unconstiontal thing ever imagined.

Nonsense. Since Anglo-Saxon times, intent has been a consideration of the law.

it completely throws away ‘all men are created equal’.

Don’t see how. It applies to everyone equally.

anyone who believes in hate crime laws obviously believes gays, women and minorities are lesser than white men, hence they need extra protection.

You do know that it has been used in cases of hate crimes against whites, right?

It sounds like you think it’s aimed at white males, assuming that white males do most hate crimes. And that is a bad assumption, I think.

Well, I’ve been moved away from water fountains because they were “whites only” so I guess I may have a different perspective than others on this forum.

However, it does not sound like a felony to me.

A bit of Niagara Falls context:

As talks continue to settle a five-year-old discrimination lawsuit filed against the city by six black employees, more examples of alleged mistreatment have been submitted to State Supreme Court for consideration.

The group initially filed its lawsuit against the city in 2003 claiming to be targets of a pattern of discrimination while working in the city’s Department of Public Works. Since then, they claim the pattern of abuse has continued.

Wyssling said the most recent example of racial discrimination was a “Whites Only” sign placed above a drinking fountain in a public works buildings on New Road. While it hasn’t been determined if the sign was a personal attack on the Falls Six specifically, Paulk said it was “a symptom of what goes on at the work place concerning racial situations.”

niagara-gazette.com/local/local_story_254220615.html

James Curtis, meanwhile, is out of $500 bond. A preliminary hearing on the charge against him is scheduled for Oct. 14th.
buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/429665.html

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