When a young father takes his son to our Skatepark and finds anti-Semitic and racist graffiti scrawled across the ramps his immediate reaction is an outrage and to protect his son from these images and words. In this case, the dad took a marker and with four simple strokes turned a swastika into a window. The ideal is that the graffiti would be left untouched for police investigation, but the world rarely offers the ideal and, in this case, it was a passionate reaction against hate and protection of his son.
It’s often hard to think things out when you’re a parent – you react with a primal instinct that is as old as time to protect and to preserve. Hopefully, this will not disrupt our investigation into the matter. I can’t help though and am haunted by the creative transformation of a symbol of hate into an image that describes the opposite. A window represents so much – it lets light into a darkened room, it allows bad things to be expelled, it protects us from the elements. The metaphor can go on but most importantly it reminds us that this is a time to learn and to teach.
We will investigate this thoroughly and hopefully find those or the individual who did this senseless, reprehensible act.
Let’s take this moment to open windows and bring in light to everyone in our community. Let this be a community wide discussion about the existence of hatred, bigotry, racism in our midst and how we can confront it, transform it, expel it. Our greatest focus should be to teach our youth. Yes, just as this father protected his child from symbols of hate, it’s also important to continue the lesson so a young person knows where it comes from, what it represents and who it hurts.
I think of the words by Rabbi Rebecca Shinder from Temple Beth Shalom after the horrific desecration of our Jewish Cemetery, and I share them with you as they are empowering, “Hate is not welcome here.” It is up to us to share these words and lessons in our own homes and wherever we go. This is the strength that will enlighten and make a change.
If anyone has information about this incident, please notify the Warwick Police Department at 986-3423.
The next Village Board meeting will be held on Tues., Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Village Hall, located at 77 Main St., in Warwick.
The above column, written by Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, has been published in the Feb. 12 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch.