East Meadow

Nab man in link to antisemitic graffiti on LI


Antisemitic vandalism struck Long Island over the weekend, with Jew-hatred expressed in spray-painted graffiti along a heavily trafficked road that connects Bellmore and Merrick to East Meadow.

The graffiti, bearing such statements as “Zionism is Nazism,” “Stop the Genocide” and “Free Palestine,”was discovered on a large stretch of fencing along Merrick Avenue, just a few blocks south of Front Street, in the early hours on Monday.

A suspect was arrested early on Tuesday.

“The location of this hateful act was not chosen by accident,” said Nassau County Legislator Tom McKevitt, an East Meadow resident. “This is a portion of East Meadow which has a very large Jewish community. It was designed to incite violence and hate, which we will not tolerate here.”

Nearby neighborhoods are also home to a large number of Jewish residents.

Debbie Habshoosh, who’s yard backs up to Merrick Avenue, began displaying fliers on her fence last fall, showing photos of hostages taken by Hamas during its murderous invasion on Oct. 7. Habshoosh’s husband is Israeli, she said, and before Monday, in the six months since she put up the fliers, they hadn’t been touched.

But on April 15, she discovered the fliers had been defaced, and a majority of her neighbors’ fences had also been vandalized.

“I have never seen such a brazen attack on our friends of the Jewish faith,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said at a news conference on Monday, in response to the incident. “We should all be outraged, and we should all make a commitment that we are not going to stand for antisemitism in our communities.”

Clavin was joined by Hempstead Town Councilmen Chris Carini and Dennis Dunne, Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll, Legislator McKevitt, and District Attorney Anne Donnelly, along with dozens of East Meadow residents.

Clavin called East Meadow “the heartbeat” of the Town of Hempstead.

“This is a thriving community with many individuals of many faiths, but a hard practicing congregation is just blocks away that I’ve been to many times,” he added, referring to the East Meadow Beth-El Jewish Center. “I’ve never been so disgusted in my entire life as a public official.”

Donnelly said the incident could be categorized as a “hate crime,” which means a crime is committed with a bias motivation. She added that her office has seen an increase in hate crimes in the last six months, and are aggressively prosecuting individuals responsible.

“Hate crimes are not acceptable in our town,” she said. “To our Jewish brothers and sisters — my heart hurts for you today. This is not something you should have to see. This is not something that you should have to put up with. I stand by you and stand with you, and will prosecute the individual and work with the police department to find out who did this.”

The Town of Hempstead’s Quality of Life taskforce, which was created by Carini, promptly began to remove the graffiti from the fences.

“We must stand firm with our ally,” Carini said. “We must stand firm against antisemitism. We must stand firm against international terrorism. And we must demand that Albany fixes our broken criminal justice system and holds these criminals accountable.”

“We read about these things in the news — you see them on the news all the time, but to see it happening two minutes from our synagogue here, it’s something else,” said Aaron Marsh, spiritual leader of East Meadow Beth-El.

Marsh added everyone has the right to their own beliefs, but to deface property is outrageous. “It’s an act of intimidation,” he said.

The sidewalk in front of East Meadow-Beth El was also defaced, by a spray painted message that said “Free Palestine.”

The Nassau County Police Department and Nassau County District Attorney’s Office began investigating the graffiti around 6:20 am on Monday morning, and asked locals to check their home’s cameras, and report any findings to the police or the DA’s office.

Around 1:40 am on April 16, police announced that Sebastian Patino Caceres, 23, of East Meadow, was arrested in connection to the incident. Casceres was charged with seven counts of criminal mischief, possession of graffiti instruments and seven counts of making graffiti. He was arraigned on Tuesday, at the First District Court in Hempstead.