Attack on Rhode Island Pro-Life Monument Investigated as Hate Crime

JOHNSTON, March 30, 2004 ( - Police in Rhode Island are treating an incident of vandalism of a pro-life statue as a hate crime. Last week, vandals defaced a statue at Our Lady of Grace Church in Johnston, Rhode Island, spraypainting “Anti-Choice Nazi’s” and blotting out a pro-life prayer at the foot of the statue. The statue is called “the Good Shepherd” and is meant to symbolize the Church’s pro-life beliefs.

The pastor of the Catholic church, the Rev. Douglas Spina said, “I’m very saddened. I was shocked. At first, I was angry, and then my thoughts turned to the need to understand their anger and to pray for them, whoever did this.” Our Lady of Grace is the only Catholic Church in the town that displays a specifically pro-life message on its grounds.

Police Chief Richard Tamburini has said that the indications are clear that this constitutes a hate crime under the state’s criminal code. Hate crime in Rhode Island is defined as “any crime motivated by bigotry and bias, including but not limited to threatened, attempted or completed acts that appear after investigation to have been motivated by racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender or disability prejudice.” The crime also violates the state law prohibiting “desecration of places of public assemblage.” Each violation carries a fine of up to $10,000 and five years in jail.

The reaction of state police in Rhode Island is in stark contrast to that of police in Montreal after the desecration of Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in March 2000. After a “feminist” march, protesters burned crosses and vandalized and spray-painted pro-abortion messages inside the prominent Montreal church. Montreal police refused to charge the vandals with hate crimes at that time saying that there was no evidence. coverage:

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