WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – A man who spat upon, insulted, and threatened a young Muslim girl on a public bus in New York has been arrested, according to the New York Police Department. CBS News reports that the police said “Perry Germano, 50, of Queens approached the 15-year-old female victim, made anti-Muslim statements, spat on her and raised his fist while threatening to punch her.”
Germano defended his actions, allegedly saying “I had a dispute with a girl on the bus, I didn’t intentionally spit on her, when I said ‘F— you’ to her, spit came out of my mouth. I cocked my hand back at her, but never said anything about race or religion,” according to DNAinfo New York.
The criminal complaint accuses Germano of telling the 15 year old girl “F— you, f— your people, you Muslim, you are a terrorist” and “I’m not scared to hit you with my fist.”
The incident comes more than a year after a group began posting anti-Islam advertisements in the New York public transit system, which includes the bus system where the altercation occurred.
“The American Freedom Defense Initiative purchased space next to 228 clocks in 39 stations for ads with an image of the burning World Trade Center and a quote attributed to the Quran saying: ‘Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers’” said the Huffington Post.
Time Magazine reports that in 2012, “the AFDI ran ads implying Muslim radicals were ‘savages,’ declaring: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.”
ABC News said that the victim reported being spit upon three different times, stating the altercation began when the man noticed she was wearing the traditional Islamic scarf.
Loonwatch reports that according to their sources Germano said “I will kill you.”
Germano has a checkered criminal history, with nearly forty previous arrests for a variety of crimes.
Is this a hate crime?
“A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation,” says the FBI.
The Anti-Defamation League reports “Congress enacted a federal complement to state hate crime penalty-enhancement statutes in the 1994 crime bill. This provision required the United States Sentencing Commission to increase the penalties for crimes in which the victim was selected “because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 permits federal prosecution of any person that “willingly injures, intimidates or interferes with another person, or attempts to do so, by force because of the other person’s race, color, religion or national origin” when that persons attempts to engage in one of six types of federally protected activities including patronizing a public place or facility. It is unclear whether travel on a public bus is included within this law.
No public comment has been made on whether this case will be prosecuted as a federal hate crime.