Local leaders condemn vandalism of Great Neck Chinese Association banner

Local leaders condemn vandalism of Great Neck Chinese Association banner
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. (Photo by Robert Pelaez)

Local officials gathered at the Village of Great Neck Plaza Thursday to condemn racist vandalism of a Great Neck Chinese Association banner, which is currently under investigation by the Nassau County Police Department.

The organization’s welcome banner was on display above the Great Neck Long Island Rail Road station, officials said, and had a “racial slur” written at the bottom last week. Dorothy Feng, co-president of the Great Neck Chinese Association, called on the individual(s) who committed the vandalism to step forward and accept responsibility for their actions.

“The attack on the banner is not a simple act of vandalism,” Feng said. “But it is an attack on a group of residents based on our ethnicity. More importantly, this is an attack on the ideas of tolerance, acceptance and the celebration of diversity.”

Feng, on behalf of the organization, expressed gratitude for the outpouring of community support and urged others who witness any attack against any other religious or ethnic group to speak out against it. Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Ted Rosen said that an act of hatred against any one person or group is an act of hatred against the entire Great Neck and Nassau County community.

“This act cannot stand unchallenged,” Rosen said. “It is an act that requires a strong, decisive response by people of goodwill from all backgrounds.”

Rosen praised the mixture of cultures, races and religions in Great Neck Plaza and the entire peninsula, noting that the village recently received an “A” rating for its diversity by Niche.com.

“We are here today united and strong,” Rosen said, “condemning bigotry and racial prejudice here, wherever and whenever hatred and prejudice raise their ugly heads.”

The village and the Great Neck Chinese Association released a joint statement that formally condemned the act and committed to promoting diversity and the acceptance of tolerance of people from all backgrounds.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said he, county officials and the Nassau County Police Department will be putting their entire effort into finding those responsible for the act. Hate crimes, Blakeman said, have not been on the rise in Nassau due to the work of the police department.

“Our hate crimes are way down and the reason for that is we have zero-tolerance for these types of acts that are done to create fear and terror in people of various ethnic groups, religions and races,” Blakeman said. “Dorothy, we will not stand for this.”

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said Blakeman urged him to put “all the resources” into the investigation last week. At this time last year, Ryder said, there were 15 hate crimes in Nassau against the Asian community. This year that number has dropped to eight, he said.

“We’re doing everything we can because of the cooperation we get from the community,” Ryder said.

Police are currently monitoring surveillance videos in the community and running license plate readers to try to identify any suspects, Ryder said. Having individuals in the community report any information about who may have committed the vandalism, he said, is the best help that concerned citizens can provide to the police.

Rabbi Robert S. Widom of Temple Emanuel said this act of hatred proves there is more work to be done, despite having the peninsula and nation flooded with diverse individuals.

“You have to root out [hatred] from wherever we find it,” Widom said. “We have to be unified against what these haters represent. And we must show them how powerful we can be in opposing the vile behavior that they represent.”

Other officials present to express their support for the Great Neck Chinese Association and stood against the vandalism included Nassau Legislator Mazi Pilip, North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, North Hempstead Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey, Great Neck Plaza Deputy Mayor Pamela Marksheid, former Congressional candidate and Great Neck resident Robert Zimmerman, Great Neck Board of Education President Rebecca Sassouni along with representatives from the offices of state Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti and state Sen. Jack Martins.

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