We, as a community, should be better than this.
The desecration of Holliswood Hospital — the second such incident at the derelict facility since June 2017 — is appalling. Police said they discovered a swastika painted on the stairwell shed of the hospital and while officers from the 107th Precinct worked quickly to cover the heinous graffiti, more needs to be done to prevent these kind of hateful acts in the future.
The hospital, which closed its doors in 2013 after enduring some financial hardship, has been a frequent target of malfeasance. And it’s not the only place in the borough to be defiled by abhorrent rhetoric.
In March 2017, hate graffiti was discovered on the outside wall of an office building where Astoria’s elected officials are headquartered on Newtown Avenue. Lawmakers condemned the act and pushed for swift action against the perpetrators, yet the problem persisted. In May 2017, Astoria was the target of more hate when homophobic graffiti was discovered.
Eventually, police tagged a suspect in connection with 16 acts of anti-gay graffiti during a six-month spree in western Queens. The suspect was charged with third-degree criminal mischief and in September was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
That the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force caught the offender is great, although it took a months-long investigation to do so. There should be a system in place to arrest the vandals sooner rather than later. There’s too much at stake.
Queens is the city’s most diverse borough, home to millions of people from different backgrounds. When you have this kind of melting pot, there’s sure to be people who don’t like one another. But that’s no excuse to drag everybody down by scrawling hateful rhetoric across the borough.
Lawmakers, the NYPD and the courts need to make a statement and impose harsher penalties for those charged with these hateful crimes. Perhaps if there were stricter punishments for committing these acts, fewer people would be inclined to engage in these atrocities.
Queens welcomes people from all over the world, but there is no room for anyone spewing hate in the nation’s most ethnically diverse county. The World’s Borough is gearing up for a long fight to protect the rights of all our neighbors regardless of race, religion or gender. What better place to defeat hate than right here in Queens.