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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bronx Man Convicted Of Defacing African Burial Ground National Monument With Threatening Racial Slur

Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that IVAN NIEVES was convicted of vandalism for defacing a sign on the grounds of the African Burial Ground National Monument by writing a threatening racial slur on it.  The conviction follows a bench trial before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “The protections of the First Amendment do not extend to defacing federal property.  Ivan Nieves was rightly found guilty today for defacing the African Burial Ground National Monument with racial slurs.”

According to the evidence presented during the trial: 

On the morning of November 1, 2018, NIEVES wrote “Kill N----rs” in large bold letters across the face of a signpost entitled “A Place of Remembrance” in front of the African Burial Ground National Monument, which is located at the corner of Duane Street and Elk Street in Manhattan.  The monument commemorates the skeletal remains of approximately 15,000 African slaves who built the early City of New York.  Those remains were discovered in 1991 buried 30 feet beneath the streets of the city across more than six acres in lower Manhattan.

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NIEVES, 57, of the Bronx, New York, was convicted of one count of vandalism, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison.  NIEVES was acquitted of one count of disorderly conduct.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  NIEVES is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Wang on July 17, 2019, at 11:00 a.m.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Protective Service, the New York City Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force, and the United States Park Police.  Mr. Berman also thanked the National Park Service for its dedication and assistance.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jacob R. Fiddelman and Sagar K. Ravi are in charge of the prosecution.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Hate Crimes
Press Release Number: 
19-124
Updated April 11, 2019