A routine assembly in the town of Haverstraw took a nasty turn last week when a village resident publicly threatened a group of his fellow citizens. Rockland County Legislators Michael Grant and Jay Hood Jr. said the comments made during a public hearing on a proposed synagogue in Haverstraw were wrong and have no place in our community.
“This hateful language and attitude are absolutely unacceptable and I condemn it in the strongest way possible,” Legislator Grant said. “I do not understand – and I do not accept – how someone can say they are going to hit a person with their car and then back over them because they are members of a group of people that they clearly don’t like. It is outrageous and disgraceful.”
Legislator Hood, who represents part of Haverstraw, said the Planning Board Chairman, Salvatore Corallo, and the Board Attorney, Christie Todd Addona, responded immediately.
“I am grateful that clear-thinking people acted so quickly to shut this guy down,” Legislator Hood said. “He crossed the line and I support a thorough review by the Haverstraw Police Department, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office and the State Attorney General’s Office to determine if his comments meet the legal threshold for terroristic threats.”
Legislator Grant, whose district includes the area where the synagogue is proposed, concurred.
“If charges are appropriate, I hope the proper legal authorities will file them,” Legislator Grant said. “As a town, county and state we need to send a clear message that this behavior and this public espousing of hate is not right and will not go unchecked. Neighbors can and should participate in the process but there is no place for bigotry and hate.”
As noted by Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard Phillips, Haverstraw town is a diverse community that has welcomed residents of various backgrounds since its founding some 400 years ago. It is also home to the first synagogue, Catholic Church and African American church in Rockland, all of which continue to operate.
County Executive Ed Day was equally offended by the remark, stating in a comment shared with the Rockland Times: “This is beyond disgusting and not what the people of Rockland are all about. We can disagree, argue and quarrel but the line is crossed when you state “There is a certain sect of people that tend to walk in the street, and nobody is wearing any reflective gear. So, if I run one of them over – and of course I’m gonna back over them again.”
There is an intelligent and respectful way to make your point and this is clearly not that. This discourse is utterly ignorant and hateful and on behalf of the vast majority of the good people of Rockland, I condemn it in no uncertain terms.”