If I were to call you a bully, it would be protected speech. If I were to spraypaint that same sentiment on public property, it would be vandalism. And if I were to turn that sentiment toward the New York Police Department (NYPD)? Apparently, it would be a hate crime. That's the charge leveled against Rosella Best, a 36-year-old Brooklyn woman who spraypainted messages such as "NYPD pick on the harmless" around Williamsburg.
Other messages, which Best spraypainted on cop cars and one elementary-school wall, included "Nazis=NYPD"; "NYPD pick on the innocent"; and (my personal favorite) "a wrongful arrest is a crime."
Our graffiti justice warrior was caught on camera and arrested. But instead of charging her with "defacement of property" or merely "criminal mischief," the NYPD booked her on the more severe charge of criminal mischeif as a hate crime, plus aggravated harassment.