In Brooklyn Heights, a Rally Against Hate

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After a pair of swastikas are discovered in Adam Yauch Park, demonstrators call for love and solidarity

In response to graffiti discovered at Adam Yauch Park playground Friday in Brooklyn Heights, some 500 Brooklyn residents and city officials rallied there on Sunday morning to condemn hatred and call for love and solidarity. The graffiti—a pair of swastikas with the words “Go Trump”—was replaced with flowers and hearts before the rally.

“This kind of thing happened in the neighborhood is unacceptable, and when it’s in your backyard, you have to do something about it,” said Sonia Ives, 54, a textile designer at the rally. “It’s a decision you have to make about whether you sit back and say, ‘We are going to be okay” and watch other people not being okay, or stand up and say, ‘It’s not okay if any person is threatened.’”

Rally participants hold signs protesting Nazi graffiti

Rally participants hold signs protesting Nazi graffiti (Jessie Shi / The Brooklyn Ink)

Citywide hate crimes have gone up by 31 percent from this point in 2015, from 250 at the point last year to 328 as of Sunday, police commissioner James O’Neill said on the John Catsimatidis radio show. There have been other racial incidents in the area, too. On the Long Island Railroad this weekend, riders found recruiting flyers from the “Loyal White Knights of the KKK,” complete with a website and phone number with a North Carolina area code, according to a passenger who photographed a flyer.

To stand against hate crimes, Mayor Bill de Blasio planned a rally on Monday at Cooper Union. “NYC is great, prosperous and strong because we are inclusive,” de Blasio said in a Tweet. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a hotline for citizens to report hate crimes at (888) 392-3644.

At the Brooklyn Heights rally, some people argued that President-elect Trump has a duty to speak out against such incidents. “Trump allows them to happen. He’s not doing anything to prevent them. Dark force and bigotry—that’s what his election has given birth to,” said Brant Thomas, 59, a retired Brooklyn Heights resident at the rally.

“Trump’s election has given everyone a free pass to speak out their hate,” said Lisa Myers, 29, a production designer at the rally.

City Council member Stephen Levin said any hate message that conveys anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism, or Nazism would not be tolerated in America. “Mr. President-elect, if you don’t come out forcefully and repeatedly to condemn all acts of hatred, then you are condoning them,” Levin said at the rally. “Not in our country, not in our name.”

The audience applauded and chanted “Not in our country; Not in our name” following Levin’s speech.

“Brooklyn is about love. Brooklyn is not about hate,” Serge Filanovsky, 47, an art director, said after the rally. “We got all different kinds of people here. We are supposed to get along.”

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