By Gina Martinez
Despite backlash, state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) is continuing to push for legislation that would rename Donald J. Trump State Park to Heather D. Heyer State Park, after the demonstrator who was mowed down in Charlottesville, Va., last month.
Rozic said she has received anti-Semitic hate mail following her announcement of the legislation that would direct the commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to rename the park, located in Yorktown Heights to Heather D. Heyer State Park.
“As soon as they came in, I followed that law and notified the NYPD to have them filed on record,” she said of the hate mail. “In the meantime, no threat will stop me from working for my district, and I will never compromise the values that brought me to this office, no matter how many more hostilities, postcards or otherwise come in.”
According to the Declaration of Policy of the Office of Parks, state parks should foster and strengthen the sense of purpose, well-being and identity of the citizens of this state. Rozic said the renaming would acknowledge that its current designation does not reflect the goals of uplifting and unifying New Yorkers.
“New York has always been a state that celebrates the strength in our diversity and has made it clear, time and time again, that hate has no place in our communities,” she said. “The events that unfolded in Charlottesville and across the nation will continue being called out by Americans whose values are rooted in progress and equality.”
Heyer died Aug. 12 at a “Unite the Right” event in Charottesville. The rally was in response to the planned removal of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee statue and quickly escalated into violence against protesters and anti-racist demonstrators. Things came to a head when white supremacist James Fields, Jr., drove his car into a crowd of demonstrators, killing the 32-year-old paralegal and injuring 19 others. Hayer has been remembered by family and friends as someone who actively spoke out against racism and discrimination in her community.
“Heather Heyer’s life was taken away by white supremacists who have been emboldened ever since President Trump took office,” Rozic said. “In New York, we continue standing by one another and calling out those who seek to divide us. This activism is not new – it is embedded in our state’s history, and renaming Donald J. Trump State Park would serve as a reminder of the transformative power it holds to carry us forward.”
Rozic has stood against Trump several times since his election.
The assemblywoman passed a bill that would allow parents to appoint a standby guardian in the event of administrative separation in response to fears about ICE upping its presence in neighborhoods. She also joined the National Association of Jewish Legislators urging Trump to fill the current vacancy in the U.S. Department of State for a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart