It’s time to stand up to hate
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | JAN. 10-JAN. 16, 2020 17
BY COSTA CONSTANTINIDES
This rising wave of anti-Semitic attacks
in and around New York City is
sickening, disheartening, and disgraceful.
Here in Queens, we take pride in being
the most diverse place on Earth. But
that can no longer just be a talking point
on tourism literature. The Jewish community
— and all those threatened by
hate-filled violent acts — want action to
combat domestic terrorism. It’s time to
close out of Twitter, put down the phone,
and roll up our sleeves.
It’s on all elected officials to ensure
anti-Semitism and all forms of hate are
nipped in the bud.
In October, I proposed creating a Department
of Diversity & Outreach within
the Queens Borough President’s Office.
Politics aside, whoever wins this race
should refocus staff to counteract the
national wave of xenophobia and white
nationalism. We need to transform the
conversation and the interactions of
our communities by directing more
resources education, public safety, and
A Department of Diversity & Outreach
should be the go-to place for Community
Based Organizations who know
their blocks better than anyone else.
They should have a direct line to Borough
Hall when a piece of racist graffiti
pops up or a targeted attack unfolds.
These smaller incidents can sometimes
be a sign of things to come in a
neighborhood. We must also employ
people who reflect these neighborhoods,
so that there is a member of the Jewish
community who can serve as a trusted,
The Queens Borough President
should play a role working with the
Mayor’s Office to ensure more funding
for programs that promote understanding,
spread the world about a proposed
hate crime, or step up police presence if
The next Queens Borough President
should also put a renewed focus on having
their staff in communities as well.
With satellite offices in key locations
throughout the borough, our residents
will have a place where staff speak their
language, so they may confidentially
report acts of hate or bigotry. We need
to show neighborhoods now more than
ever that their governments will not
Whoever takes this office must also
serve as chief spokesperson for the more
than 2.3 million people who call Queens
home. That means working with our
state partners to make New York State
the national leader against domestic terrorism.
We must send a message that
anyone who attacks one of us, to strike
fear into their hearts, is attacking all of
us. And we will respond with justice for
These are uncertain times in which
no single person will have all the answers.
Democracy dies in that kind of
vacuum. As the son of a Jewish mother,
I cannot overstate the risks of not working
together — or sitting idly by, with
thoughts and prayers, in hopes someone
else will come along to solve the problem.
It’s time for us all to act.
Costa Constantinides is a candidate
for Queens Borough President. He currently
represents Astoria and Rikers
Island as well as parts of Woodside,
Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and
Long Island City in the New York City
Council, where he also chairs the Committee
on Environmental Protection.
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