The neighboring communities of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst are battling back against a string of hate crimes that recently rocked the region’s residents.
Beginning the night of November 2 and extending into the early hours of November 3, swastikas were drawn at three locations across the area — on the facades of the Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst branches of the Queens Library and on the door of the Congregation Tifereth Israel of Jackson Heights.
“A swastika should not be anywhere in public,” said Lana M., a Jackson Heights resident, who is Jewish on her mother’s side. “We need to spread peace, not hate. We want to enjoy life and we don’t want to be hated by anyone. You have to respect everyone’s religion. We have to make sure this doesn’t spread. We have to get the community together to wipe it out.”
A rally in response to the vandalisms was held on November 4, during which elected officials and local leaders spoke out against hate crimes.
“We stand here today to say no to hate,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “We stand here today to say no to fear. We stand here today to say that hate and fear have no place in our community. We stand here today to say to those that committed these heinous crimes – you will be found, you will be prosecuted and you will not intimidate us. We will defeat you and your ugly ideas. We stand here today to fight back. We stand here today as Jackson Heights, a beautiful, diverse community of compassion, tolerance and understanding.”
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is currently investigating the incidents, which are believed to be related.
Dromm announced at the rally that he has raised a $3,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the capture of the perpetrator, consisting of $500 contributions from Borough President Helen Marshall, Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblymember Michael DenDekker, Assemblymember Francisco Moya, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.
“I represent one of the most diverse districts in the country,” said Moya. “I take great pride in our diversity and the respect and understanding our community has for every resident’s different heritage. It is critical that we come together as a community and denounce the recent hate crimes that have occurred. We must also help our local police precinct in whatever way possible to lead to the arrest of the individuals that committed these cowardly attacks.”
Leaders urge anyone with information regarding these sincidents to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.