About a thousand people, including a number of Brooklyn’s elected officials, yesterday overwhelmed Brooklyn Height’s Adam Yauch Park, State Street between Columbia & Willow Place, in response to two wrongly drawn swastikas including the words “Go Trump” that were found spray-painted on playground equipment and discovered on Friday.
Since the incident city workers had painted over the graffiti in the park which had been renamed in 2013 after the late Beastie Boys’ founding member, Adam Yauch. At the rally those gathered smiled, hand-clapped and carried placards with messages of peace and love, while small children decorated the site of the vandalism with paper hearts and flowers.
“Hatred has no place in our backyard, no place in our city, and no place in our country,” said State Sen. Daniel Squadron (Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Lower Manhattan). “Anyone who thinks the current political climate will allow oppression to win in this country is wrong. The swastika represents genocide and monstrosities our nation came together to defeat. Brooklyn’s diversity represents our country’s great strengths, and we will stand up to any who want to undermine its values.”
“As the state’s top law enforcement officer, let me assure anyone who is feeling scared or threatened at this time that this office stands behind you and has your back,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who last week issued an urgent bulletin to law enforcement offices statewide that provides guidance and support to identify, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes. “New York’s diversity is our greatest strength, and we will not allow anyone to turn that strength against us. Hate has no place here in Brooklyn, in New York, or anywhere.”
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (Brooklyn, Queens Manhattan) noted that irresponsible rhetoric and a toxic environment can engender acts of hate and she fears it’s beginning to play out. “Our community stands united in denouncing these despicable acts and making clear — if you commit acts like these you will be brought to justice and prosecuted,” she said.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer said while there are still many questions about where President-elect Trump may take America – one thing is clear: Hate speech, offensive symbols, and discrimination have no place in the city, especially on playgrounds and in front of our kids.
New Yorkers stand for modern values – not an agenda rooted in the 1950’s. Now more than ever, we must be united, and we must continue to speak out against this kind of behavior. As the First Lady said, when they go low, we go high. And for the next four years, we’re going to have to go higher than ever before,” said Stringer.
Public Advocate Letitia James said this type of hateful action and rhetoric does not reflect the values of the and will not be tolerated. “We are a City and a community that is inclusive and accepting of people from all religions, and we stand united today to remind New Yorkers of that truth. Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in hate crimes following the election, and I am calling for increased vigilance by New Yorkers to report hate crimes against any and all communities,” James said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stated that hate is not a Brooklyn value, and hate has no future in the borough.
“There must be zero tolerance for anyone seeking to divide, intimidate, or scare our neighbors through their destructive displays of cruelty,” said Adams. “Brooklynites will stand shoulder to shoulder in opposing hatred whenever and wherever it attempts to root itself, and we will pursue accountability for those responsible for these acts. Those who seek to spread hate and fear in the darkness are cowards, and they will inevitably face justice in the light of day. The legacy of Adam Yauch, a proud son of Brooklyn, will continue to stand for peace.”
Assembymember Jo Anne Simon (Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens Cobble Hill) said when national leaders intentionally or otherwise act in ways that give license to those who would express their hate, it falls on local officials and the community to speak up against these actions and refuse to normalize them.
“I am reminded of Pastor Martin Niemoller’s words: ‘First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me,’” Simon said.
Also attending and making strong statements against the graffiti and the rash of reported hate incidents were City Council Members Stephen Levin (Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Boerum Hill) and Brad Lander (Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington