Governor Dannel P. Malloy has signed into law legislation increasing the criminal penalties against those who are convicted of vandalizing war and veterans' memorials. The Governor said that with Memorial Day approaching this weekend, the new law comes at a time when the state and the nation honor the brave men and women who have given their lives in service to our country.
"Over the past decade, Connecticut has lost nearly 70 service members in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, joining the countless number of heroes who lost their lives heroically defending our nation and protecting the freedoms we hold dear," Governor Malloy said. "The fact that anyone would knowingly destroy a monument honoring our war heroes is nauseating and revolting. Let this new law serve as a reminder and a deterrent for those who don't understand the true value of what these memorials mean for our country."
The legislation was proposed following a series of thefts of memorials in the state last year, presumably for their value as scrap metal.
Under the law, a person is guilty of interference with a war or veterans' memorial or monument if he or she without authorization intentionally defaces, mutilates, destroys, or removes it, or any part of it, from its official location. It also increases penalties to knowingly possess, purchase or sell a stolen war or veterans' memorial. Both crimes are now classified as a class D felony and require a $5,000 fine.
"We are forever grateful for the dedication and sacrifice the men and women in uniform have shown in service to our nation," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. "Memorials and monuments are so important because they allow us all to honor and remember our nation's veterans. I am very pleased that this new law will help protect not only these monuments, but will help protect the legacy of our military heroes."
Governor Malloy said, "I would like to thank the members of the General Assembly's Veterans' Affairs Committee and its co-chairs, State Senator Carlo Leone and State Representative Jack Hennessy, as well as the many Democrats and Republicans who sponsored and passed this legislation that honors our nation's veterans."
The new law, Public Act 12-38, became effective immediately upon receiving the Governor's signature on May 14.