Seamans Neck Park in Seaford is the latest public area in Nassau County to be defaced with symbols of hate. This time, multiple swastikas were drawn in the park in the middle of the Jewish High Holiday season.
The anti-Semitic graffiti was found at the park’s playground on Sept. 30, etched into the playground equipment.
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin immediately condemned the act of vandalism.
“It’s really troubling that, in 2020, we’re seeing anti-Semitism taking place,” Clavin told Anton Media Group. “There were swastikas and other anti-Semitic displays etched into this playground. We informed the county police, and the town board went down to talk about this.
“It’s sickening,” he added. “This is where little kids go. This is where slides are. To think that’s what somebody or some people are capable of doing is disgusting, shocking and outrageous.”
The incident came as Nassau County increased public safety patrols near synagogues and in areas with a large Jewish population during the holiday season.
“The existence of anti-Semitism and symbols of hate in America’s largest township is unacceptable,” Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said.
Clavin cited the Anti-Defamation League’s study that exposed a 40-year high in anti-Semitic attacks in New York.
“We’re appalled, disgusted and there’s zero tolerance for this in the Town of Hempstead,” Clavin said.
Late last year, the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, which is in Glen Cove, was defaced twice in the span of two weeks.
“It’s the first time we’ve had graffiti on the center’s property,” Steven Markowitz, then-chairman of the HMTC, said after the initial incident. “It’s very unnerving for two reasons. One, it makes us feel like more of a target than we have been up until now. We’ve been lucky over the years to not be the subject of graffiti or any anti-Semitic attacks of any kind. Second, we teach that the Holocaust didn’t start with concentration camps. They drew graffiti on Jewish-owned homes and stores. It’s very unsettling.”
An Anti-Hate Task Force was created after those two incidents, as well as a disconcerting one prior to that. And it’s quite similar to what was seen at Seamans Neck Park.
Seven swastikas were found last August at the picnic pavilion at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay. The swastikas were about 10 inches in size, according to reports, and were drawn right on the pavilion’s structure.
After those incidents, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas proposed a statewide law that would mandate New York State students be taught about the swastika and noose, explaining why they are hate symbols and ones that intimidate others. Students from grades six through 12 would receive this specific education in their curricula.
The bill was brought to Albany by New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky last year, and it passed in the Senate this July. It now needs to be passed by the New York State Assembly before being signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“By educating our children about the vile meanings of the swastika and noose, we can take tangible steps to stamp out racism and anti-Semitism from our society,” Kaminsky said. “I urge the Assembly to pass this vital piece of legislation and send a clear message that hate has no place in New York and our nation at-large.”
Clavin said people need to be aware of what the swastika means. Anti-Semitism, he said, will not be tolerated. This is the first major anti-Semitic incident he’s seen since taking over as the supervisor of the Town of Hempstead in January.
Within his first few weeks in the office, he met with Jewish community leaders to discuss ways of making sure these attacks would be controlled, especially after the 13 incidents in New York City over the holiday of Hanukkah.
“This is a two-way street,” Clavin said. “If you see something, say something. That is also a deterrent. We need to get these culprits and hold them accountable.”