When Fernanda Urbide and Matteo Prodani opened their mail last night at their Manhattan Avenue apartment they were shocked to find a threatening message with hate speech misidentifying them as Jewish.
“Fuck you Jew” and “Burn in Hell Jew” were written on the folded sheet of composition paper with a large swastika in the center, signed “From Your Very Good Neighbor.”
“I don’t know how they got the idea that we are Jewish, it’s just really weird,” said Urbide, a painter and sculptor who identifies as Mexican/Cuban American and has lived in New York for four years with her Italian husband.
The letter with no return address was mailed to the couples’ startup shoe company which shares the same address as their home in Greenpoint. Detective from NYPD’s 94th Precinct are now investigating.
“It’s our home, because we don’t have an office yet, because we just started. I don’t know where they got our address, it’s just weird,” Urbide said.
Another incident relating to threatening hate speech in Greenpoint occurred earlier this month when a series of stickers with swastikas were discovered along McGuinness Boulevard. Local politicians condemned the hate speech and the spread of hate graffiti was addressed at the monthly 94th Precinct community meeting. Gothamist reports that swastika incidents in NYC have increased by 76 percent from 2016 to 2018.
When encountering hate graffiti in public the most effective way to report it is to leave the graffiti untouched and call 911 immediately, as 911 operators will be able to determine if it’s a situation that can be referred to 311, according toOfficer Rivera of the NYPD’s 94th Precinct Community Affairs. Not contacting the authorities first and posting on social media impedes the timing of the investigation. A proper investigation is paramount and can lead to an arrest, he said.
Hate crimes in NYC increased by 22 percent against Jewish people and by 33 percent against black people in 2018. The spread of swastikas and hate graffiti has been a constant story over the past two years, but NYC’s violent crime and murder rate is currently at historic lows.