S.I. Councilmembers Speak Out Against Recent Bias Crimes
09/15/2003 07:20 PM
Some Staten Island officials are calling for action after the second apparent bias attack in the borough this month.
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
Police say a group of white men shouted racial slurs and attacked a black teenager at around 5 a.m. Sunday in front of a deli on Nome Avenue. Witnesses said the attackers hit him over the head with a bottle and punched hum while saying, “Stay out of our neighborhood.”
Officers arrested 19-year-old Dominick Laborante at the scene, but they have not said whether he was involved with the attack. So far Laborante has been charged with criminal mischief.
Some shoppers at the deli said there has been racial tension in the Springville area.
“They’re ready at all times,” said Dawn Little, who works in the neighborhood. “If you attack them, they are ready to attack you back, if you look at them wrong or say the wrong thing. It’s a very prejudiced neighborhood.”
Earlier this month, a group of white teenagers assaulted an 18-year-old black girl and her friends on Staten Island. Eleven people have been arrested in connection with that attack, which wasn’t investigated as a bias incident until her parents complained in the media.
“You notice these things every day, because nobody has respect for anybody anymore,” said William Manzione, who works in Springville. “Everybody is ignorant.”
Others disagree, saying the area is usually quiet and safe.
“It’s a very good neighborhood,” said one man. “I used to go to school right around the block, and there were never any problems.”
Members of the City Council's Black and Latino and Asian Caucus joined elected officials from Staten Island at City Hall Monday, where they spoke out against the attacks.
"There is no room for hate or bias in this city," said Staten Island Councilman Michael McMahon. "But let us not focus on this one neighborhood, because this is not only in Staten Island — we have this problem in Brooklyn, in the Bronx, in Queens and in Manhattan. It comes too often to the fore in our city."
"Clearly in certain areas of Staten Island they need to have a sign that says 'If you're not of a certain color, don't come in,'" said Bronx Councilwoman Helen Foster. "And that's unfortunate in this day and age."
The councilmembers plan to meet with Staten Island residents on Saturday to discuss the attacks.