Feb. 24 Update: Yet another case of anti-Orthodox Jews graffiti was found on Thursday at the Lawrence train station, according to Village of Lawrence Trustee Michael Fragin. See the picture attached to the story. The original article appears below.
Two incidents of bigoted graffiti against Orthodox Jews on Five Towns Long Island Railroad platforms in the last week have been cleaned up, according to officials.
In both cases, an individual wrote on platform advertisements “Damn Orthodox” followed by a curse word. The most recent case was found on the Cedarhurst platform on Monday. Graffiti found on the Lawrence platform last week claimed the Orthodox “killed our schools.” Similar handwriting was found on a ticket machine back in November 2009. Most of the members of the Lawrence School Board are Orthodox Jews.
“It’s disconcerting. It is criminal activity. You are defacing someone else’s property and to put it at the train station where people will see it, you’re putting in people’s faces,” said Village of Lawrence Trustee Michael Fragin, who is an Orthodox Jew. “The other aspect is … you’re not standing up at a school board meeting and expressing your democratic right. It’s cowardly.”
Rhetoric at Lawrence School Board meetings can often get tense. In some instances, audience members raise their voices and use terms such as “Orthodox majority.” Recently, trustees have not responded to public comments.
“The two incidents are really unacceptable,” said David Newman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island. “Name-calling and vandalism is not a way to maintain dialogue. It shouldn’t have happened.”
Since the graffiti was found on LIRR property, it was outside the Fourth Precinct’s jurisdiction, making it an MTA matter. Fragin said he called the office of New York State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) last week to report the incidents and to get the senator’s office to urge the state authority to clean it up.
“I spoke with the Long Island Rail Road this afternoon and was informed that all graffiti reported has been cleaned,” said Tom Locascio, Skelos’ district director, on Tuesday. “Furthermore, they have also informed me that the MTA Police will be increasing patrols around all train stations throughout the Five Towns.” He added that MTA Police is trying to catch the individual responsible for the writing.
The Village of Lawrence has cameras on the platforms, and Fragin said it would hand over the footage over to the MTA police.
“Hopefully whoever has done this will be caught and prosecuted,” he said. “It’s un-American.”
Newman said he hopes that leaders of the school board and parents of public school students can talk out their issues to help cool the rhetoric. “I hope today will be the last of these kinds of incidents,” he said, “and that honest and respectable dialogue can resume.”