Brooklyn graves toppled, defaced with racist slurs

By Paul Welitzkin in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-08-18 13:00

Brooklyn graves toppled, defaced with racist slurs

The New York Police Department's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a vandalism attack that included the spray painting of anti-Asian words on Aug 15 at the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn. CALVIN ZHOU / CHINA DAILY

Anti-Asian words and other derogatory remarks spray-painted on tombstones that were knocked over in the sprawling Cypress Hills cemetery in Brooklyn this week have prompted the New York Police Department's Hate Crimes Task Force to join the investigation of the vandalism.

Surveillance video released by police from inside the cemetery taken in the early morning hours of Tuesday showed three teens taking photos or selfies, according to the New York Daily News.

Police said the three suspects damaged more than 40 headstones by knocking them over and spray-painting offensive words. The trio then went into the Abbey mausoleum and broke the marble stones on the fronts of about 15 vaults, and again sprayed derogatory words.

Despite the Asian slurs, Stacey Cullen, operations chief at Cypress Hills, said it doesn't appear that the vandals were targeting a specific ethnic or religious group.

"They (vandals) were near an Asian area that got hit," she said. "But they were also near non-denominational (areas) where they knocked down and spray painted them. I think they were going after everyone."

Cullen said repair work has already started on the damaged tombstones.

The cemetery, which operates as a non-profit organization, is more than 100 years old and has interred several notable people, including American baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Also buried on the grounds is Wenjian Liu, a New York City police officer who was shot and killed with his partner as they sat in their squad car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn in 2014.

"His grave is fine as they didn't go near his section," said Cullen, who noted that Robinson's grave wasn't involved in the attack.

US Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of New York and New York City Council members Peter Koo and Margaret Chin condemned the incident.

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