Free Speech Smashed in England; Pensioner Fined $1,000 for Calling Blockbuster Developer “Shylock”
86-year-old Herminio Martinez has been convicted for racially aggravated threatening behaviour after launching into an antisemitic tirade on 8th February following a city planning meeting at which Jewish businessmen were permitted to construct a block of flats.
Property developers Michael and Joseph Gerrard were leaving the city planning at Haringey Civic Centre when Mr Martinez, who had opposed the planning application, called Michael Gerrard “Shylock”, a reference to the Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice who famously demands a “pound of flesh” in settlement of a debt.
Mr Martinez denied the offence, but the magistrates convicted him on the basis of video footage of the aftermath of the incident filmed on a smartphone, handing him a 12-month conditional discharge and ordering him to pay £625 prosecution costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
We commend the victims for taking action to ensure that this racist was punished.
Regrettably such convictions are rare due to reluctance on the part of the Crown Prosecution Service to take action against antisemites. While 2015 saw the worst level of antisemitic hate crime on record, we only know of 12 cases of antisemitic hate crime that the Crown Prosecution Service prosecuted, out of a total of 15,442 hate crimes prosecuted that year.