Animal defaces E. River Park wildlife sign

The sign in the Pollinator Garden in East River Park after it was defaced by a hateful vandal or vandals. (Photo by Tommy Loeb/Twitter)

BY GABE HERMAN | A sign in East River Park was recently vandalized with several swastikas and “KKK” lettering written all over it, along with crude sexual images.

The defaced sign was a “Habitat for Wildlife” sign that included photos and information about butterflies, birds and bees. It was located in the Pollinator Garden, near the park’s Ball field No. 1, which is just north of the amphitheater and south of Grand St.

The sign is the property of the Lower East Side Ecology Center, which also manages that garden in the park, according to city Parks Department spokesperson Crystal Howard.

Michael Marino, the founder and president of Friends of Corlears Park, spoke about the incident at the Community Board 3 full-board meeting on Tues., Feb. 26.

According to Marino, the defaced sign was first reported to Parks and the Police Department on Fri., Feb. 15 at 10:30 a.m.

“At 4:30 at night, it was still there,” he said, “as people were preparing for the Sabbath. So it was finally taken down by some distressed community members.”

Marino said that Parks put the sign back up after cleaning it of the hateful scrawls — but some swastikas could still be seen that were scratched into the sign.

“We’re still looking for answers from the Parks Department why there was such a long delay in taking care of this,” he told C.B. 3.

Parks spokesperson Howard, however, told this paper that Parks staff did not actually repost the sign — and that when it was seen that markings were scratched/etched into it, the sign was removed from the garden completely and housed in the “track house,” at E. Sixth St.

Howard said the LES Ecology Center then retrieved the sign from the track house and reposted it in the garden.

Soon after the sign was reposted, on Feb. 16 or 17, it was further vandalized by being kicked over, according to Howard, after which the Ecology Center removed the sign from the garden. So far, the placard has not been replaced.

“We take bias graffiti very seriously,” Howard stated. “This incident was addressed swiftly, as we do citywide with all matters of this nature.”

The LES Ecology Center could not immediately be reached for comment. However, Christine Datz-Romero, the group’s executive director and founder, said the incident was handled quickly, citing a report in Patch.

“It’s just really unfortunate,” she said. “I’m hoping that it won’t happen again. I’m also hoping that we’ll find the person that has done this.”

Police officials said the Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident. Marino said that on Feb. 26 he spoke with community officers, who said so far their investigation has not turned up anything, and that there are no cameras in that part of the park.

Congressmember Nydia Velazquez condemned on Twitter the vandalizing of the sign.

“I was alarmed and saddened to see this local environmental gem defaced by this act of hate,” she tweeted. “Bigotry has no place in our city or society, which is why I’ve introduced legislation to dedicate additional federal resources to prevent and prosecute acts like these.”

Police data showed that hate crimes in the city rose last year by about 6 percent, including an increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, which rose 22 percent from the previous year and 39 percent compared to two years ago.

2 Responses to Animal defaces E. River Park wildlife sign

  1. Is it possible to look for fingerprints? I used to live on E. 3rd St. between 1st and 2nd Ave, and once saw a red flag with a white Circle with a swastika in the center. from my window across the alley between the two buildings.

  2. That’s not how you draw a swastika. I’m betting it was a teen trying to be edgy. HOAX!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *