Located at 31-19 Newtown Ave., the graffiti was found in two places on the building’s facade on Monday morning. This isn’t the first time the senator saw those words written on his headquarters. According to his spokesperson, the same phrase was written there last week, when Councilman Costa Constantinides filed a report with the NYPD.
Both Gianaris and Simotas have been vocal about their opposition to President Trump’s proposed policies. They, along with Constantinides, whose office is located next door, held a rally to celebrate Astoria’s diversity shortly after Trump was elected.
Gianaris proposed legislation that would prohibit the Port Authority, which administers New York’s airports, from utilizing any of its resources to enforce the president’s initial travel ban. He also introduced legislation that would add immigration status to the list of protected classes in the state’s Human Rights and Civil Right Laws.
“It is shameful that someone is trying to divide our diverse neighborhood through hostility and bigotry,” he said of the graffiti. “We can assure our community that these hateful actions will not silence our opposition towards policies we consider un-American, and we will continue to fight for those who need our help no matter the cost.”
Simotas recently introduced a bill to protect undocumented victims of crimes and cited President Trump’s recent executive orders on travel and Homeland Security directives as the reason for crafting the bill.
“Writing hateful graffiti is a cowardly, criminal act that pollutes our neighborhood and makes people feel less safe,” Simotas said. “I am confident that the 114th Precinct will catch the perpetrator or perpetrators, whatever their sick motivation may be. These acts of hate will neither silence nor stop Astoria’s elected officials from working to fight discrimination and intolerance and to protect the beautiful diversity of our neighborhood.”
Linda Sachs, a spokesperson for Simotas, said a city graffiti truck came to clean up the graffiti at 12:15 p.m. Monday.
The 114th Precinct has documented both incidents and is also reviewing security footage to help identify the person or people who committed these acts.
In a previous 114th Precinct Council Meeting, Deputy Inspector Peter Fortune, the commanding officer of the 114th Precinct, addressed several incidents where men were verbally and psychically accosted because of their religion. Swastikas were also found in a playground and train station earlier last year. Fortune said he would take graffiti just as seriously as other hate crimes.
“There’s no place in the 114th [Precinct] for this kind of anti-Muslim, anti-religious, anti-ethnicity at all,” Fortune said. “Frankly, it bothers me. It actually embarrasses me when I see some of the people that commit these crimes. We do take the graffiti just as seriously. We do treat it as a hate crime.”
Gianaris said this incident would not silence his resistance to the Trump agenda and that “this heinous act will only increase the vigor with which I stand up for those being attacked.”
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) March 20, 2017