In a q and a after Steve Levy’s Battery Park announcement on Friday, Tom Robbins of the Village Voice asked Levy about the Southern Poverty Law Center's interpretive report several months ago that denounced the Suffolk executive as an “enabler” of hate crimes -- and about Levy's statement that if the Lucero slaying case, now pending in court, happened elsewhere, it would have been treated as a one-day story in the news media.
For the record, two things to compare and contrast.
First, Levy’s answer Friday, in full:
“I’m so glad you asked that, because when Mr. Lucero, who was an Ecuadoran immigrant, was killed out in suffolk a couple of years ago, my statement actually was this is a horrible heinous crime…. a man was killed for walking down the street because of the color of his skin. We’re going after those people and we’re putting them away.”
“It was several days later that a reporter asked me ‘Why do hate crimes only occur in Suffolk county’? and I said, ‘Wait a minute. Hate crimes occur everywhere, as was the case with an Ecuadoran immigrant, just a couple of weeks after Mr. Lucero got brutally stabbed, he was murdered in a hate crime. In that case it was a one or two day story. With the Lucero case it was 250-plus stories, and somewhat beause of the immigration debate we had. My response was if the Lucero event happened elsewhere it might have been treated as a one-day story. I was in no way insinuating it should be treated as a one day story.”
Now, here is word-for-word transcript from key portions of the actual interview with Newsday reporter Reid Epstein in late 2008 -- which formed the basis for how he was quoted in the wake of the Lucero killing.
Draw your own conclusions. Comments on all sides, as always, are welcome.
Levy: “It should all be denounced, but hate crimes occur in Nassau, in New York City, in Westchester, they just seem to get more attention by the media and some of these groups when it happens in Suffolk county.
”Some people politicize the issue and try to make linkage between advocacy for strengthening the borders with this outrageous criminal activity. It’s a responsibility of the media to not attach those two very different issues.
”I think if this happened in another county, there would be the legitimate denouncing of the criminals that committed this act but they wouldn’t try to tie motive to immigration policy.
“You have hate crimes all the time in Nassau, but they don’t rise to the level in the media.
The media has tried to make linkage between the two issue where such linkage doesn’t really exist.’’
”There are hate crimes occurring everywhere. When they occur in these other areas, there's maybe a small box on page 50 and it goes away. In Suffolk county, the media pounces on it with assistance of some of these more extreme groups. It becomes a two-week series of stories.”
Levy: “It’s a tendency by the media and some of these advocacy groups to tie advocacy for border security to these crimes of hate. I think it’s a despicable tying of the two that have nothing to do with each other. It’s the nature of the beast, and its going to happen each and every time. There are hate crimes in other areas that don’t get one scintilla of the same kind of coverage in Suffolk County. “
Q: How would it be covered differently had he been killed in Nassau County?
Levy: “It would be a story, it would be a one-day story. You wouldn’t have all of the side stories trying to link motive to county policy. “
”If the reason you have these hate crimes was Suffolk believes in border patrol, in a sanctuary city you wouldn’t have any hate crimes at all. And we know hate crimes are occurring in New York City...’’