For Immediate Release - November 18, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Obtains Final Judgment Against Men Accused of Racially Motivated Assault

WORCESTER - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office obtained a final judgment in a civil rights case against two men charged with a racially motivated attack in Worcester. The final judgment, granted by Worcester Superior Court Judge Mitchell Kaplan, prohibits John Polydores, of Worcester, and Douglas Griffin, of Paxton, from violating the civil rights of the victims and all others in the Commonwealth based upon actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity or national origin. A violation of the judgment is a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and two and a half years in a House of Correction, or if bodily injury results from such violation, a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in State Prison.

"Unprovoked, racially motivated attacks like this cannot and will not be tolerated in Massachusetts. These incidents not only affect the victims, but the community as a whole," said Attorney General Coakley. "This office is committed to working with local communities to respond to these incidents with swift and strong action, reaffirming a collaborative commitment to securing the civil rights of all citizens."

According to the complaint, in November 2008, Polydores and Griffin engaged in racially motivated attacks against two individuals. The complaint alleges that while inside a Worcester convenience store Polydores and Griffin approached an African American woman and physically assaulted her while using racially derogatory language. The complaint further alleges that after being asked to leave to store, the defendants approached the woman's vehicle in the parking lot, occupied by a male friend, screaming racial epithets, and proceeded to pound and kick the vehicle. During this time, Griffin allegedly climbed onto the vehicle and began to jump on the hood. The Commonwealth alleges that the driver--in fear for his safety--attempted to drive out of the parking lot, at which time Griffin fell from and was struck by the moving vehicle. According to the complaint, when police arrived, Polydores was heard using racially derogatory language while screaming threats at the woman, who remained in the store during the attack on the vehicle. The Worcester District Attorney's Office is prosecuting Polydores and Griffin for the physical assault.

The Attorney General's Office obtained the judgment under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA), which is commonly referred to as the hate crimes statute. Under the MCRA, the Attorney General's Office has the power to obtain an injunction in cases where a victim has faced threats, intimidation, or coercion because of his or her membership in a protected category, for example, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, or because he or she is engaged in a protected activity, such as the right to use public ways or places, the right to vote, or the right to associate.

Assistant Attorney General Lee Hettinger of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division prosecuted this case.