On Wednesday morning a resident returning from Waldbaum’s in the Lindenwood section of Howard Beach noticed something hanging from a tree limb on the street behind her building. Curiosity brought her closer to the tree; close enough to make what she termed a horrifying discovery—a noose had been tied to a low lying tree branch. She ran back to her home and called the police. That was the beginning of another investigation involving a hate crime.
In recent times there have been other incidences of hate in surrounding communities, including the repeated desecration of sacred ground at the Bayside Cemetery in Ozone Park. During one particular incident anti-Semitic slurs were scrawled on tombstones and human remains strewn over the grounds.
Just last week, Anthony Collao, 18, was beaten to death with a metal pipe while attending a house party held by two openly-gay friends of his in Woodhaven. The teens accused of fatally beating him reportedly yelled anti-gay slurs during the horrific attack.
And now, a hangman’s noose has been found in Howard Beach.
In the days ahead, it will be easy for the public and media to pile on Howard Beach for this incident, which is one of the consequences of the neighborhood’s history. For as many times as we have been branded as a community who hates, is as many times as we have been victimized by a sensational media, all because of the acts of a few irrational and bigoted individuals.
The truth is that although all of these incidents target different individuals or groups, they use the same weaponry—hate. The people of Howard Beach are obligated to each other and to their neighbors to do the only thing they can to prevent this victimization from continuing. They must make sure it happens no more. We will forever be cursed with this reputation until we raise our efforts to wipe it out.
Parents, teachers, babysitters, dog walkers, cyclists, whoever you are and wherever you’re going, if you see it speak up about it. The Lindenwood woman who acted immediately may be instrumental in the gathering of important details in finding those responsible for the reprehensible act.
But she alone cannot fight this monster. It is our universal responsibility, whether we come from Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven or any other community, to deliver our message against hate in a louder voice than that which speaks only hate.
We must stop allowing a small number of evil voices to overshadow ours, and from destroying the neighborhood’s reputation.