State Sen. John Brooks on Wednesday said a member of...

State Sen. John Brooks on Wednesday said a member of his staff was subjected to racial slurs in Massapequa last week.

Credit: Howard Schnapp

A staff member for state Sen. John Brooks was subject to racial slurs last week by a passenger in a car after it blocked her path near a Massapequa LIRR station, the lawmaker said in a statement Wednesday.

The Nassau police department said it is investigating. Brooks (D-Seaford) said the state Attorney General's office is also investigating the incident.

The staffer, a woman of South Asian descent, recently moved from Virginia to New York to work with Brooks, she told Newsday while recalling the Sept. 7 incident. 

“I haven’t experienced anything like this up here before,” said the staffer, a Brooklyn resident who takes the train daily to her job in Brooks' Massapequa office.

“Every other experience I’ve had since I’ve been here has been wonderful,” she said. Newsday is not identifying the woman because she is an alleged crime victim. 

In a statement, Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the department "has a zero tolerance approach toward any and all biased incidents and is actively investigating this incident. I have been in contact with Senator Brooks as I continue to monitor this case. I would like to assure the residents of Nassau County that the safety of our residents is our main concern."

Calls for comment to the Attorney General's office were not immediately returned.

“It is a shameful thing that any person in our community would have to endure such a trauma, let alone a member of my office family,” said Brooks said in a news release sent by his office. “This incident is indicative of a cancer that pervades our society today, one that is steeped in hatred, ignorance, and a false sense of entitlement. It is imperative that we stand up for the ability of every member of our community to feel safe in our neighborhoods.”

The staffer said she had left the Massapequa LIRR station and was waiting at a crosswalk at Sunrise Highway when a red car carrying two men slowed down and pulled in front of her, cutting off her path. The man in the passenger seat then leaned out the window and shouted racial insults. 

“You don’t belong here, this is Massapequa!” the man shouted, according to the staff member. 

The woman, an immigrant who lived in Virginia after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, said she has been the target of racist taunts in the past, but was stunned by the unexpected verbal assault last week and didn’t know how to respond. After regaining her senses, she said, she fought back tears and made her way to Brooks office, where other staff members urged her to report the incident to the Nassau Police. 

Brooks later notified the Attorney General’s office, the staff member said.

The senator said similar incidents are often not reported to police and he urged anyone who has been the target of a racist harangue to contact authorities. 

“For anyone who has been a victim, please don’t stay silent,” Brooks said. “Our community is here for you to support you through what you’ve experienced, and our law enforcement community is here to help you seek justice.” 

The woman said she was grateful for the support she's received from Brooks, and her colleagues, as well as the Nassau police officers and James' staffers investigating the incident. 

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