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New York Community Leaders Outraged After Racist Slur Found on African Burial Ground

Community members expressed disappointment after a hate message and racial slur was found plastered across a Black historical site in New York City on Nov. 1.

The New York Police Department said they’re searching for the suspect who defaced the African Burial Ground National Monument in lower Manhattan with graffiti suggesting that Black people should be killed. Community leader Tariq Washington expressed disappointment in police officials who had yet to apprehend the culprit responsible for the doing.

“How can there be all these cameras around and we are still looking for a suspect?” Washington told CBS New York on Sunday. “Racism does exist in New York City.”

African Burial Ground marked with grafitti

(photo credit: CBS 52)

The graffiti was written in black marker on a monument plaque, but it was later removed. The monument, which is erected at the site described by the National Park Service as “the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans,” was established to commemorate the role Black slaves played in building the city of New York.

“Some lowlife come and on this monument right back here and write ‘kill the N’s,'” Assemblyman Charles Barron said. “You must be out of your mind if you think we’ll remain silent. We want an arrest.”

The incident comes after a number of similar crimes in the city. The same day as the monument vandalism was discovered, anti-Semitic slurs were found outside homes in Brooklyn Heights, while swastika graffiti was found in Manhattan and Brooklyn the same week.

New York City has experienced an uptick in “anti-Semitic hate crimes, particularly swastikas, on buildings in parts of the city” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told the New York Times.

The race-related incidents follow a few days after 46-year-old Robert D. Bowers opened fire and killed 11 people inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October.

One community leader spoke to the emotional impact of the graffiti on the African Burial Ground.

“I couldn’t hardly believe it. I was the first here to go down into the burial ground in 1991,” Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry told CBS. “Our mothers and fathers are buried here. Our grandmothers are buried here.”

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