Racist, Trump-inspired graffiti under investigation in Mineola

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Nassau County police are investigating  two incidents in which swastikas and derogatory statements were spray-painted on sidewalks in Mineola some time between last Wednesday evening and last Thursday morning.
Detective Lt. Richard LeBrun, commanding officer of the police department’s Public Information Office, said at a news briefing Monday that a red swastika, the phrase “Make America White Again,” a play on President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” and “other disparaging and derogatory statements against African-Americans and those of Middle Eastern descent” were spray painted on a Washington Avenue sidewalk between 11 p.m. on Nov. 29 and 6 a.m. on Nov. 30.
On a sidewalk on Elm Street, LeBrun said, two red swastikas and derogatory statements against African-Americans and Middle Eastern people were also found and believed to be spray painted during the same time period.
“This behavior is that of a misguided individual,” he said. “It’s not acceptable to the residents and the police of Nassau County.”
LeBrun said Third Squad detectives were investigating the case and that the department was unsure who committed the crimes, how many culprits there were or why the crimes were committed.
He added that the two incidents had “similar characteristics.”
Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said village personnel removed the graffiti as soon as police allowed them to last Wednesday morning.
The village is offering its own $1,000 reward for information related to the crime, Strauss said.
“We have such a great community, and for some recessive gene to do this is despicable,” Strauss said.
LeBrun declined to connect the incidents to  Trump’s election as president, saying he was “not a politician” and was  “not going to go there.”
“We’re always concerned,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Election Day or prior, we’re always concerned about any type of derogatory statements or hate crimes.”
Hate crime incidents in the county, LeBrun said, are “approximately the same” number this year compared with last year, with 48 crimes being reported since January. Hate crimes in New York City have more than doubled, going from 20 in November 2015 to 43 last month, according to the Daily News.
He said the crimes have varied in terms of which groups were targeted, with three separate incidents in Garden City Park in early November having been “against the white population.”
Those incidents had the statements “Kill Whitey” and “Kill Honkeys” spray painted, though LeBrun did not disclose where.
He said the information on both the incidents in Mineola and Garden City Park were withheld because the department “didn’t want to spur any kind of copycat attacks” during investigations.
“We wanted to give the squad the appropriate time that they needed to complete the investigation,” LeBrun said.
He said police checked video surveillance of the neighborhoods of the Mineola incidents, but the videos were unclear.
LeBrun requested that anybody with information on the attacks calls the Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.
“Hate crimes will not be tolerated in Nassau County and all messages of hate will be investigated and pursued by police,” Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said in a statement. “Residents can help combat discrimination by reporting such incidents to 911 and taking an active role in shaping and promoting inclusiveness in our society.”
U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice condemned the hate crimes in a statement sent out Monday evening, saying that the culprit was “not clever…not tough” and “a coward.”
“If you have something you want to say, then come forward, turn yourself in to the police, and show your family, your friends, and your neighbors who you are,” Rice said. “I won’t hold my breath waiting for President-elect Trump to condemn people using his campaign slogan to intimidate people of color. It’s up to every one of us to call out this kind of language and behavior wherever we encounter it, and it’s up to every one of us to show that we are grateful to live in such a diverse district, state and country.”
Roslyn school board member Adam Haber said in a column appearing this week in Blank Slate Media newspapers that following the Nov. 8, “Jews are experiencing a resurgence in anti-Semitism.”
“President Elect Donald Trump, like him or not, has changed the discussion as to what is politically correct,” Haber said. “Anti-Semitism is now acceptable and the victims of it are being blamed for it.”
During his campaign against state Sen.-elect Elaine Phillips, a Republican, in the 7th Senate district, he slammed a social media advertisement depicting him as a character from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“There was a paid Facebook ad with a gross caricature of me as Tevye, and a caption that read, ‘Adam Haber Tax Cap Fiddler,’ implying I would ‘fiddle’ with taxes,” Haber said. “In other words, the Jew fiddling with your money, paid for by the [New York State] Republican Party.”
Last month, a Port Washington student found a swastika drawn on the wall in a boys bathroom at Paul D. Schreiber High School.

By Joe Nikic

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