For Immediate Release - July 09, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Obtains Preliminary Injunction Against Men Accused of Racially Motivated Assault

WORCESTER - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office obtained a civil rights injunction against two men charged with a racially motivated attack in Worcester. The order, granted today by Worcester Superior Court Judge Richard T. Tucker 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 their actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity or national origin. A violation of the injunction 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. "Fortunately, the community responded to this incident with a swift and strong message reaffirming its collaborative commitment to securing the civil rights of all its citizens."

According to the complaint filed on July 3, 2009, in Worcester Superior Court, Polydores and Griffin engaged in racially motivated attacks against two individuals in November 2008. The complaint alleges that Polydores and Griffin approached an African-American woman inside a Worcester convenience store and physically assaulted her while using racially derogatory language. The complaint further alleges that after being asked to leave the store, the defendants approached the woman's vehicle in the parking lot, which was occupied by a male friend, screamed racial epithets and proceeded to pound and kick the vehicle. During this time Griffin allegedly hopped onto the vehicle and began to jump on the hood. The Commonwealth alleges that in fear for his safety, the driver 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 actual physical assault.

The Attorney General's Office is seeking relief 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 is prosecuting this case.

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