Written by Daniel Offner Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00
Following recent reports of a racially charged incident — surrounding allegations that an unknown Town of Hempstead employee intentionally posted a picture of a monkey as a hate-fueled reference of an African-American co-worker — town officials announced they will mandate new and intensive diversity training for all employees working at the Highway and Parks department facility in Levittown.
“We have united as brothers and sisters to say ‘NO’ to hatred in our communities,” said Town Supervisor Kate Murray. “We are speaking out, letting everyone know that acts of hatred will not be tolerated in Hempstead Town.”
The incident was first reported by Jimmy Howard, an African-American employee with the town’s highway and parks department, who was outraged to see that a co-worker had posted the image to the department’s bulletin board, with the label “Jimmy’s baby picture.”
On April 29, town officials, clergy members and community leaders gathered in prayer circle to demonstrate a powerful and unified voice calling for an end to acts of hatred, violence and discrimination.
“Today I stand here to condemn such an act of racism to Mr. Howard,” said Melvin Harris with the NAACP in Hempstead. “No one in America should have to come to work to take care of their family and be met with such an offensive act.”
Taking swift action, town officials said they plan to conduct their own investigation to find the culprit(s) responsible for posting the picture to the Highway Department bulletin board. The incident has also been referred to the Nassau County Police Department and District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office.
Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said that as an African-American citizen she was offended and repulsed to learn of the allegations and vowed to work towards bringing an end to the displays of ignorance and hatred.
“Employees must be sensitive to their colleagues at work and respectful of each other,” Goosby said. “Every worker needs to clearly understand that despicable actions like this are offensive and hurtful to others, and are entirely unacceptable.”
As a result of the incident all 25 town employees in the department will take a new and intensive diversity training.