To the editor:
Hatred has no place in any community.
On Friday, July 11 police from the 50th precinct investigated hate-filled graffiti, including swastikas, found inscribed into the ground at McLaughlin Playground in Riverdale. The incident, now being overseen by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, is the latest in a string of recent acts of anti-Semitism found in our community.
While the graffiti was quickly removed by police later that afternoon, it cannot be ignored that whoever defaced the playground used an area of peace and safety for children as a platform for hate. It is particularly disturbing that the perpetrator of this discrimination shows total disregard in exposing innocent children to the hateful and divisive message contained in their words.
It is clear that whoever vandalized the property did so with the intent to frighten and harass the Jewish community. In response, we have come together to state that these types of incidents will not be tolerated in Riverdale or anywhere else. The incident at McLaughlin Playground is appalling. Our community does not stand for this or hate crimes of any kind.
The diversity of Riverdale, and in fact of the entire Bronx, is part of what makes the community special, and together, we must do everything possible to ensure that those of all faiths and backgrounds are protected. Playgrounds and parks are places for people of all ages in our community to relax and connect with one another in a protected environment and they must remain as such.
As elected officials, we fight day after day to protect the virtue of free speech and expression. However, when it comes to hate speech that targets specific communities, we must take a stand. We condemn this anti-Semitic graffiti and will be working together with the NYPD to make sure the individuals who are responsible for this hate crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Members of our community should never feel isolated, frightened or persecuted. That’s why we stand in solidarity with the vast majority of Riverdalians who cherish the rich diversity of our neighborhood and who will continue to fight to keep our community respectful and accepting of all.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL
STATE SEN. JEFF KLEIN
ASSEMBLYMAN JEFFREY DINOWITZ
BOROUGH PRESIDENT RUBEN DIAZ JR.
COUNCILMAN ANDREW COHEN