Jamaica Estates is no place for hate.
That was the message residents and elected officials delivered outside the former Holliswood Hospital on Friday, June 23, after racial and anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered there last week.
During the June 23 press conference, Assemblyman David Weprin, Councilman Barry Grodenchik, state Senator Leroy Comrie and the neighborhood’s religious and civic leaders railed against the painted and carved symbols, including a KKK symbol and swastikas, discovered on the facade of the building. Additional graffiti was also discovered inside the hospital containing hateful language directed toward African-Americans.
The hospital, located at 87-37 Palermo St., was closed in August of 2013. The site has been abandoned since.
According to Weprin, the hateful graffiti was first discovered on Sunday, June 18, and the incident is being investigated as a hate crime by both the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force and the 107th Precinct. Authorities from the Hate Crimes Task Force have since been on site three or four times and are currently looking into a potentially suspicious car seen on the premises, the assemblyman continued.
At the press conference, Weprin called the acts of vandalism an “assault” on the diverse community’s values.
“The people of Queens stand together as a community against each and every incident of hate, and I thank my colleagues, religious clergy and civic leaders for joining me today to speak out against these despicable acts of vandalism,” Weprin said.
“The despicable actions of the vandals who defaced the Holliswood Hospital site neither represent nor have a place in our community,” Comrie added. “Queens is a bastion of harmonious diversity — and that’s what makes us great. I thank Assembly Member Weprin for bringing the community together to reaffirm this.”
In the wake of the incident, members of the community at the press conference called for increased surveillance in the neighborhood, as well as lighting outside of the abandoned site.
Rabbi Moshe Taub of Young Israel of Holliswood also spoke out against the hateful incident.
“Queens in general and Holliswood in particular is known for its diversity,” he said. “On the weekends one finds in Holliswood Sikhs, Muslims and Jews — the three main demographics of Holliswood — walking with their families. This act was a stain on this beautiful and diverse community. This is not to mention the survivors of the Holocaust who already have their arms painted by the Nazis and who now must also have to witness a sign painted on the walls of their neighborhood that brings them back to years of torture. Sad and infuriating.”
Weprin’s office will work with the building’s owner to see that the graffiti is removed.