The murder of three Asian-Americans just because they were Asian-American, graffitiing of swastikas in school yards and on streets, physical attacks on Jews and blacks, continued anti-Muslim and anti-gay rhetoric.
The uptick in reported hate crimes has become so prevalent that City Council Member Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest, Midwood) held a youth rally against hate in the lobby of James Madison High School, 3787 Bedford Avenue in Madison/Marine, to send a strong message that the city is united in condemnation of these hate crimes.
“Today is very unique. Today, we’re empowering or young adults. It’s not only important to educate our future generations about hate, bias, bigotry and anti-Semitism, but to empower them to stand up because they are our future,” said Deutsch.
Nineteen year-old Touro College student Sarah Vishevnik emceed the event and introduced young speakers from throughout the borough and from various ethnic community to give a personal statement against hate and hate crimes.
Among these students were Marley Shea from PS 222; Tommy Lam, a youth participant at the Chinese-American Planning Council; Maria Yatif, a youth participant at The Bridge Multicultural Project; Everton Smith, a young community leader and City Council staffer to Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brownsville); Sonny Tue, a youth representative of AHRC New York, an organization that provides services to disabled individuals; Aleena Malik, a participant at the Pakistani American Youth Organization; Janaya Kerben, a young, Jewish community activist; and Malaz Gadai, a youth participant with the Arab American Family Support Center.
A large number of elected officials also showed up for the event including U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke and Nydia Velazquez; District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Assembly Members Mathylde Frontus, Diana Richardson and Felix Ortiz; and City Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Robert Cornegy and Mathieu Eugene.
“Our humanity comes from so many different places. I like to say it’s like Baskin-Robbins, and I love all these different flavors,” said Clarke.
Velazquez reminded those in attendance to watch their words. We need to set of tone of humanity and compassion,” she said.
Madison High School remains one of the most diverse high schools in Brooklyn with over 4,200 students from all over the world, according to the janitor, Mr. Earle, who showed this reporter a quick tour of the school. This included one floor that featured a long wall celebrating the many cultures currently attending the school.
Earle also showed this reporter the mock courtroom – a place where such alumni as U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Charles Schumer first gained interest in government as high school students.
The school also has seven alumni that have won Nobel Prizes, the second most in the world after the Bronx School of Science. Other luminaries that went to the school include comedians Chris Rock and Andrew Dice Clay, Singer/Songwriter Carol King, and Mad Magazine Creator and Publisher William Gaines.