Rockland County Times
NEW CITY-Security at Rockland County Courthouse found some strange items at the foot of the stone bench in front of the courthouse last Wednesday morning prompting a response from the Rockland Sheriffs Bomb Squad. What they found wasn’t a bomb but what they deemed to be Santeria artificats “left intentionally to cause fear and alarm.”
A five-person bomb team and two trucks of specialized equipment reported to the scene after a bomb squad detective and his canine partner, Kelsey, were alerted to the ritualistic package at 11:18 a.m. A bomb technician dressed in a blast suit used a handheld x-ray machine to determine the object was not explosive in nature.
There was very little disruption to courthouse activities as the unusual package was left outside a part of the building with no court in session.
“Initially it was thought to be an explosive device. After further examination, it seemed to be items that would be consistent with ingredients from some type of a Santeria ritual artifacts,” Chief William Barbera said in a statement.
“If these items were out in a field or a park, it would not have raised the same level of suspicion or threat. Finding them at such a prominent public building as the County Courthouse was alarming,” stated Chief Barbera.
Barbera explained this is not the first time they have investigated an incident where Santeria was suspected to be involved. While the Sheriff’s said they could not release the details of what was found at the foot of the bench, the Rockland County Times (RCT) found a copy cat Santeria ritual leftover at the exact same location on Saturday. The RCT found remnants of a broken coconut, egg, red plastic, dirt and pearl-headed pushpins.
According to Tony Mele, a 24-year security consultant to local and foreign governments, and former RCT columnist, Santeria high priest are known to place items at courthouses in an attempt to place a “hex “or a “curse” to silence lawyers, judges, and witness in exchange for money.
The Sheriff Dept. confirmed Santeria priests have in the past placed “curses” or “hexes” and the “curse” can be transferred to anyone who disturbs the leftovers of their rituals. When asked if the Sheriffs Dept. was concerned about a possible “hex” or “curse,” Chief Barbera confirmed, “Yes, we are very concerned.”
Santeria is an Afro-Cuban religious system brought to the New World from the Yoruba people of Africa during the slave trade. Among its controversial points, some Santeria priests have used the ritualistic killing of animals to summon deities or entities known to be similar to “demi-gods,” according to www.santeriachurch.org, a California offshoot of the practice.
According to the website they routinely kill “chickens, roosters, goats, sheep, pigeons, etc.” as a mandatory part of initiation and gatherings. In 2009 Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Santeria’s right to sacrifice animals stating it was protected under religious freedom law. Other branches of Santeria have protested that their version of the religion does not make use of hexes or sacrifices.
Anybody with possible information about the incident is asked to contact the Rockland Sheriffs at 845-638-5400.