Senate Targets Vandalizing Of Churches, Synagogues

Alaska Beacon
    Members of the Alaska Senate approved a bill that would increase the penalties for damaging or defacing property owned by religious organizations and used for religious purposes on Saturday. It will return to the House for concurrence on changes made in Senate committees.
    Sen. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, carried the bill in the Senate and said this issue is significant in Alaska. He pointed to state data that shows 80% of hate crimes in Alaska were motivated by religious bias and the vast majority of those crimes were vandalism of property.
    The crime of knowingly damaging a place of burial, worship or religious significance would be punishable as a class C felony, which are punishable by up to five years of prison time or up to $50,000 in fines.
    “Vandalism of… typical property is not equivalent to vandalism to religious property,” Claman said. “Yet under current Alaska statute, there’s no distinction between the two.”
    Sen. Forrest Dunbar, D-Anchorage, said he saw the need for the legislation and clarified its scope. “This additional criminal penalty will not apply if someone doesn’t know a property’s religious, or if it’s one of those ancillary buildings that is owned by a religious entity, but not part of this very narrow focus,” he said.
    Members of the Senate passed the bill 17-2. Sens. David Wilson and Mike Shower, both R-Wasilla, said they wanted more time to tighten the bill before the vote came.
    The Senate version of the bill makes some changes to the language overwhelmingly approved by the House in March. Bill sponsor Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, said he saw no major obstacles to agreement from the House. He said he was involved in the changes, which he said are nuanced. “I think it’s going to do well,” he said. “I don’t think there will be any problem.”

Login Form



May 2004

Dr. Arthur Cleveland, a former dean at Columbus State University in Georgia, was named the new president of Sheldon Jackson College, SJC officials announced today. He will be replacing C. Carlyle Haaland, who has held the position for four years.


May 1974

Coaching and managing the Little League teams this year are John Abbott and John Calhoun, ANB; Dale and DeWayne Vilandre, Alaska Federal; Walt Barker, Elks; Frank Simmons and Frank Vilandre, Lions; Leo Bacon, Pat Ness, Cliff Robards and Bob Edenso, Moose; and Everett Webb, Sportsmen. Head umpire is Carl Karpstein.


Local Events


Daily Sitka Sentinel on Instagram!


Daily Sitka Sentinel on Facebook!