2008-01-31 / Top Stories

Pols Protest Hate Crimes After Racial Slurs Found In Surrogate Court

By Neil S. Friedman

By Neil S. Friedman

Senator Sampson (rear left) was among the politicians, community activists and religious leaders at last Friday's Borough Hall rally.
         William AlatristeSenator Sampson (rear left) was among the politicians, community activists and religious leaders at last Friday's Borough Hall rally. William Alatriste In response to messages of hate targeting Brooklyn Surrogate Court Judge Diana Johnson, and an alarming twenty percent increase in hate crimes in New York City this past year, Congressman Ed Towns, state Senator John Sampson and Assem-blyman Nick Perry joined other elected officials, the Rev. Al Sharp-ton and other community and religious leaders at a Borough Hall pro-test last Friday.

The press conference was called after Court personnel discovered racist graffiti a day earlier that read, "Judge Johnson is a dumb n----r."

The judge was alerted and an investigation launched by detectives from the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. In cases where graffiti is deemed racially motivated, the punish-ment usually results in a more severe punishment than the typical misdemeanor for such vandalism.

Johnson was elected last Novem-ber and is the first black Surrogate Judge in Kings County where she hears cases involving the probate of wills, as well as the administration of estates and adoptions.

Congressman Towns, whose 10th District includes parts of Canarsie, said, "We just celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King day and it is shocking and deplorable that Judge Johnson was demeaned in this way. We should not tolerate discrimination, no matter where and when it happens in this city, state, or country."

"For this act to happen in the courthouse where justice is supposed to be blind and the scales of justice supposed to balance," said Sampson, "calls into question whether that's really the case."

Perry said, "While recent primary election results have given strong and positive indications that America is clearly on the road to overcoming racial prejudice, it is, however, still shocking to learn that the remnants of racism remain, bold and shameless enough to show its ugly face in this cowardly anonymous attack on Justice Johnson.

"In our recent commemoration of Martin Luther King's Birthday, we were reminded of his vision of an America where such abominable be-havior would find no tolerance. I join with these good citizens in condemning this disgusting act of bigotry."

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, "We have zero tolerance for anyone who would single someone out simply because of who they are or who they may be perceived to be. We are joining together today to send a clear, strong message to every New Yorker, to stand up against hatred and stand for diversity and equality."

(See related "Letter to the Editor" on Opinion page.)

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