Supervisor Don Clavin, flanked by Councilman Anthony D'Esposito and Town Clerk...

Supervisor Don Clavin, flanked by Councilman Anthony D'Esposito and Town Clerk Kate Murray, denounces antisemitic vandalism at Forest City Community Park in Wantagh. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Hempstead Town officials removed swastikas and other graffiti from half a dozen trees Thursday at Forest City Community Park in Wantagh, ahead of the holy days of Passover and Easter.

The graffiti was found off a trail, deep in the park, near the Wantagh State Parkway. Several trees were marred with black and red spray paint. The markings included swastikas, pentagrams and tags and were discovered by a hiker Wednesday, Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said. 

Town officials said public safety officers believe the vandalism occurred Tuesday night after officers passed through the area Monday. Town officials reported the graffiti to Nassau County police, who are investigating the hate symbols found on the trees.

“This is a wholesome, sweet community and a really special park. And the fact vandals would not only cause graffiti, but clearly antisemitism was clearly on the minds of individuals,” Clavin said. “We’re glad the police department is investigating and the town is ramping up our reviews of all our park facilities.”

Clavin said the town may add cameras to some park entrances to track vandals arriving at off-hours, while maintaining the privacy of residents.

The town’s public safety officers are increasing patrols around parks and houses of worship during holy days of Passover, Easter and Ramadan, Clavin said. He said hateful attacks have increased and become too commonplace on Long Island and in New York City in recent years.

Town council members and workers took an electric wire brush to the trees Thursday afternoon, removing the graffiti without harming the trees. Officials said the trees would be treated with chemicals to preserve and strengthen the bark.

Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said the town would work with commissioners and those in charge of writing grants for the town to add funding to increase education about antisemitism.

“There’s no place for hate in the Town of Hempstead or anywhere across this nation. We’ve seen it. It’s the never-ending news cycle every day, an antisemitic attack on our community, and we will not stand for it,” D’Esposito said. “We are America’s largest town and we need to set the precedent and we will.”

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