A hangman’s noose was found dangling from a tree on 84th Street between 153rd and 155th avenues, adding to a recent string of apparent bias attacks throughout Queens and New York City.
A Lindenwood resident called police about the situation on Wednesday around 7:30 a.m. The noose was subsequently removed and is being tested for DNA and fingerprints, and the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident as a bias attack, a source within the precinct said.
The woman who called police told The Forum that she saw the noose after her morning shopping at Walbaums. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she saw something hanging from the tree, and when she investigated was “shocked” by what she discovered.
“I’m a Jew, and if I saw a swastika, I would feel just as sickened as when I saw the noose,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or Jewish or anything else. Hate is hate.”
The woman, a Lindenwood resident for 47 years, and said she does not want herself or the neighborhood to be associated with this type of behavior.
The motive for the noose is being investigated, but it is believed it may be connected to an incident last Friday night when a worker for CitySolve Systems Inc., a company used by Councilman Eric Ulrich to clean graffiti in the area, was accosted by a group of teens while he was painting over tags in the neighborhood.
According to company owner Bruce Pienkny, the worker called him the following day and said he was able to complete his jobs in the Ozone Park area, but was harassed by kids who used racial slurs and told him to leave the Howard Beach area.
Pienkny told The Forum that the noose was found very close to Friday’s incident, and when he heard about the location of the noose, he instructed his employee to speak with officers from the 106th Precinct.
“He has never had a problem before,” said Pienkny. “It was a warm night, so maybe a lot of kids were outside. Still, there’s no excuse.”
Local leaders said they were appalled at the incident.
“Lindenwood is a mahogany community with various ethnicities as residents,” said Joann Ariola, co-founder of the Lindenwood Alliance. “If this situation is an attempt at intimidating our residents, it is both disturbing and unacceptable. The Alliance will continue to work with the precinct and our elected officials to make sure that our residents live free from the fear of ignorance.”
Ulrich made it clear that he feels the incident is an isolated event.
“While the NYPD continues to investigate this possible bias incident, I want to make it clear that this act in no way reflects the views of the community at large or my constituents,” Ulrich said in a statement. “Lindenwood is a very diverse and hardworking community and such hateful actions have no place here or anywhere else.”
The latest incident comes just weeks after 18-year-old Anthony Collao was beaten to death by teens in Woodhaven who allegedly shouted anti-gay slurs. It also adds to a series of high-profile bias attacks throughout the city.
Michael Enright, 21, allegedly asked his cab driver if he was Muslim before stabbing him multiple times, last August.
Last July, the Mexican community in Port Richmond, Staten Island was terrorized as vandals repeatedly placed tents on Mexican immigrants’ lawns.
Additionally, there have been several major anti-gay attacks. Besides Collao’s death, a Barie Shortell of Brooklyn was critically injured after teens attacked him in February. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, and Shortell told reporters that he believes his assaulters thought he was gay, which led to the attack.
Last October, eight Bronx gang members were arrested for allegedly torturing and sodomizing a potential recruit and his 30-year-old lover after discovering he was homosexual. The attack and arrest prompted a press conference where Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Council Speaker Christine Quinn denounced hate crimes in the city.
Quinn has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of minority groups and reduce hate in the city.
“We celebrate diversity in New York City, we do not tolerate bias attacks in any neighborhood in Queens or anywhere else in our great city,” Quinn said in a statement after Collao’s death.
Quinn’s office has organized a candlelight vigil in Collao’s memory and to end hate this Thursday, March 24, at 88-20 90th Street between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Quinn’s office is aware of the noose incident and is working with the NYPD and gathering information, her spokesperson said. As of press time, Quinn has not commented on the incident.
Written By Eric Yun
Additional reporting done by Pat Adams.