Earlier this week, Nassau County residents received a mailer with three shirtless, tattooed men under the headline: “Meet your new neighbors! Laura Curran will roll out the welcome mat for gangs like MS-13.”
The mailer has been met with rebukes from local Democrats.
The ad, paid for by the New York Republican State Committee, claims that Curran, a Democrat, is “MS-13’s choice for County Executive.” It also said that her campaign is funded by special interest groups that want to make Nassau a sanctuary county for illegal immigrants.
Curran denied the claims of the ad, noting that she has repeatedly said on the campaign trail that she would not support making Nassau a sanctuary county.
And the mailer drew harsh condemnation from U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).
Jack Martins, the Republican candidate for county executive, “should be ashamed of himself for following GOP’s racist, fear-mongering national playbook. Thought he was better than that,” Rice wrote on Twitter.
A protest against the ad was also held Wednesday on the steps of the Supreme Court in Mineola. Nassau residents gathered to hold signs and express outrage over the mailer that many saw as racist. Among those in attendance was Pedro A. Quintanilla, a trustee for Westbury Public Schools.
“I feel insulted,” he said. “I know Jack, I’ve worked with him in the past. It’s like when you have a friend of someone you look up to, and they do something horrible. To me it’s a moral crime to use that message to gain a few votes.”
Sylvia Cabana, a Garden City resident and Democratic candidate for the 14th district legislator, also said she was surprised that Martins would allow his name on an advertisement like this.
“It seemed like they wanted to associate all Hispanic people with gangs and that’s terrible,” she said. “It broke my heart, because I thought Jack Martins would be different.”
Martins defended the ad on WNYC’s “Brain Lehrer Show,” saying that MS-13 was “preying on our communities.” The MS-13 gang has become a major issue in the county executive race recently after several bodies were found on Long Island. Nassau police said some of the victims are believed to have been killed by the gang.