Sanitation Dept. Gets Earful In Wake Of Cemetery Destruction

Deceased's Loved Ones Infuriated By Headstone Desecration

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Loved ones lashed out at the New York City Department of Sanitation on Wednesday after piles of snow were dumped into a Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn.

This week, the sanitation commissioner gave his department an A-plus grade for snow removal. But a new video tells a different story.

Headstones, destroyed by mounds of dirty snow.

Would you call this an A-plus job?

Sanitation workers piled the snow twice as high as the cemetery’s fence, iron and chain-link. And the damage it caused was shameful and shocking.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Faina Esterman of Brighton Beach.

PHOTO GALLERIES: Blizzard Slams East Coast | User-Submitted Pictures

About 30 headstones were toppled, with many buried under heavy mountains of ice.

“They just came and dumped snow and had no respect,” said John Middleton of Bensonhurst. 

Brooklyn cemetery headstones destroyed

What's left of few of the headstones at Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn that were impacted by Sanitation Department's decision to pile snow to close to a fence. (Photo: CBS 2)

Middleton demanded the city workers responsible, who he calls reckless and negligent, immediately dig out the crushed grave of his Aunt Ida — and before he has to break the terrible news to Ida’s elderly sister.

“How do you tell a 91-year-old woman that her sister’s grave was destroyed? What do you say?” Middleton said.

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin asked one sanitation officer who was responsible, but he said was not allowed to comment.

There were also no explanations from several Sanitation Department workers as they moved snow and ice, some in 30-foot tall sections, away from the cemetery fence and off crushed cars.

In a statement city sanitation leaders said, “The Department is reaching out to cemetery officials to provide them with the necessary paperwork to file a claim.”

But there was no formal apology. And that has City Council member David Greenfield of Brooklyn furious.

“This sanitation commissioner has his head buried in the snow. He says his sanitation workers deserve an A-plus. I shudder to think what an F is,” Greenfield said.

Also angry were the managers of Washington Cemetery. They said even though the city agreed to pay for the damage they worry what’s left of the unstable fence could fail and more headstones could break.

“They may be digging it out by hand so they don’t put any more pressure on the fence,” manager Marisa Tarantino said.

“I think the person who did it should be brought up on criminal charges,” Middleton said.

People with loved ones here said since when is it appropriate to move mountains of snow alongside a cemetery? They want this process changed so a final resting place never again becomes a dumping ground.

Washington is the same cemetery where last month vandals knocked over and spray-painted approximately 50 headstones.

More from Dave Carlin
  • Jonathan Arnow

    On City Island there is a park called Hawkins Sitting Park. It’s located on Main Street. Back in 2000, the City of New York decided to ‘renovate’ and improve the park. Little did they know but at the south end of that park is located a ‘privately’ owned cemetery purchased by my great great grandfather. The town used the area when it was undeveloped. There was a marker there, notice that I said was a marker’ . Well, without checking records, the City of New York Parks Department decided to renovate the ‘park’ and removed the monument. Buried under the benches are three generations of my family. There are 18 people total buried under there ‘improvement’s’ . I have tried on countless occasions to get this rectified and everyone assumes that the issue has been ‘settled’. They dumped the burial monument somewhere . I can not get a straight answer and have called so many people over at least a two year period. No one cares that the city did this. They do what they want with no thought. I challenge the City of New York to rectify these problems.

  • Samuel Gompers

    Unions are the best thing to ever happen in America! Thank you union members! In Solidarity we unite.

  • mikemike

    YES unions can be corrupt self dealing all of that sure and no one likes it but you have to keep in mind that the tax cuts for the rich mean a person making a million a year gets something like 50000 yep thats thousand back and a middle class person making 50k gets back about 250 a month so unions can be a drain but the rich are a tornado we all spent money on cheap asian made tvs clothes etc. while salaries went way down (no manufacturing jobs left) wakeup get mad at the rich first THEN the unions aight makes sense to me how bout u

    • Kerry Lawson

      No. First, you should sue your English teachers for malfeasance. Second, I fail to see how “the rich” and their taxes are even remotely connected to the topic at hand, which is the disgraceful behavior of the sanitation workers union. Your class envy is small-minded and misplaced.

  • Elka

    A few questions
    1. Is this common procedure that the streets of Manhattan ( I am sure it WAS Manhattan–they are the only ones who get their snow trucked out) are dumped on cemetery and we never noticed before.

    2. I would love to know the professions of all those busy union bashing. I would bet it is a combination of Wall street types and other professionals making more in a year than a union worker makes in a decade and union wannabees who are upset they don’t have a job.

    3. I DO blame the Mayor and the Sanitation workers IF they did as accused. But if you don’t want blame for your neighbor, why blame every union for the actions of some in what may or may not have been a union sanctioned slow down.

  • the bandid

    if the union are busted and the members go on strike, fire all of them and the hire the unemployed new yorkers who really wants to work

  • Estben

    The bottom line here is that the Sanitation Department has done a very lousy job for the past two weeks, and as of today, nobody has been held accountable. 1. unplowed streets, 2. uncollected garbage. this week again sanitation dept is M.I.A. 3. the cemetery – they should have used common sense. I am sure the latter was not done on purpose. We are paying their salaries, they don’t get that. Why can’t the Major acknowledge something is wrong, very wrong. And don’t blame the unions, has nothing to do with that.

  • Joe Drozd

    But i do not accept hate nor disrespect. The lives of all count. He who is without sin ,,let him cast the first stone. we know then who is being faithful.

  • Joe Drozd

    But i know i did my best and in the best that g-d has given my soul. This does not tarnish the sanitation in my heart. They do a great job. They also have politics like every labor enterprise in the u.s. I was planning on being a sanitation person from childhood but it worked out differently and i was a graveyard careperson instead once. Also jewish

  • Joe Drozd


    • Estben

      The problem is the have been having too many “foolish errors” in the past two weeks. Somebody has to be held accountable. I am sure they did not do it on purpose, but enough is enough…..

  • Joe Drozd


  • Joe Drozd

    am i intentionally being knocked off as i offer respect to the deceased even as i labored on the resting places of the multitudes of souls. 4X ‘S IT HAS OCCURRED.

  • Larry Schwarz

    I just cant believe The sanitation department and its commissioner can be that stupid.This is one instance,the unplowed streets and the destruction of that SUV are others.All are a result of stupidity.At least The Mayor accepts the fact that the city messed up.A plus huh? I wish I had college professors that graded like that.

  • Hot Blooded

    Maybe all you anti union scabs should get a job with the U.S.POSTAL SERVICE. There you are not required to join the union don’t have to pay union dues but get all the benefits of the union contract (raises,paid holidays etc.) off the backs of the union members.

  • GovtLaborUnionNotBlaakMaphia

    N Y C S U X

  • jim

    ask waw workers how good unions are, they almost destroyed the auto industry

  • pp

    This is absolutely outrageous. Insensitive, borderline antisemitic, if this hasn’t in fact crossed the line. Stop whining? What if these were graves of your parents? Would you be mad? I betcha you’d be furious! fire them all and bring them all up on criminal negligence charges! This is the same cemetery that got hit by vandals 3 weeks ago. I have family buried there across multiple sites and I had to run there several times in fear that my loved ones’ graves could’ve been hit.

    • bear in woods

      From the photo shown, it looks like the Sanitiation Dept. was plowing the paths in the cemetary and anot the public street.

  • money

    all the union is good for his taken your money

    • roy

      actually…they are stealing money

  • roy

    Anything touched by unions end up in bankruptcy. Unions are criminal enterprises and need to be busted up. If we privatize the MTA then cut half the people and pay the other half 50% more, we could bring the budget back in line with revenue. Perfect example…I saw seven MTA employees removing some ads in times square the other day…serioulsy seven…what a joke.. I especially love the token clerks reading the Daily News in the morning…why don’t you pick-up a broom and sweep instead and be more productive.

    • bear in woods

      Booth clerks aren’t allowed to leave the booth due to assaults on them and robberies. Have them sweep the stations? Ever read the paper while in your cubicle? Unions are what made America great.

  • unity

    it would be great if people got this mad about the soldiers being killed in afganastan as mad as they are about sanitation dept. what a joke.what happend to this country.

    • roy

      what happened to this country? simple answer is UNIONS! Unions are destroying this country industry by industry, city by city.

      • Jere

        Thanks. My thoughts exactly. However the whole messy union dependency situation is not easy to fix. It’s probably impossible to get rid of unions, the members will strike.

  • Adam Nash

    How do you tell a 91 year old?….you dont…you let the city clean it up and thats the end of it..stop whining everyone.

    • pp

      Stop whining? What if these were graves of your parents? Would you be mad? I betcha you’d be furious! fire them all and bring them all up on criminal negligence charges! I’d hit them up for antisemitism as well….



  • BloombergSucks

    First, let’s all stop making believe NYC is not a giant stinkhole. Second, while all the morons are drinking the anti union koolaid, the Big Money Boys are emptying your pockets. What a bunch of idiots New Yorkers are. Bloombutt could only have been elected in this sewer of a city.

  • dion reed

    Bloomberg does it again. Just buy a police scanner and listen to all the crime that happens during the day let alone the night.But we are told that the city is safe.Bloomberg is the worst thing to happen to new york since 9-11.I heard paramedics during the storm say well if sanitation cant clean the streets we cant respond to calls.People died and your idiotic Mayor went on tv and told you to drink hot coco and take in a broadway show.

  • brian

    maybe we should let the private sector do the job they use illegal Mexicans to do the work and the boss doesn’t pay social security tax or any payroll tax and when they get hurt the tax payer fits the bill .triple what it costs for a union worker to go to the hospital. and there kids go to school, again on my tax dollars. the private guy get rich and doesnt pay the tax he should. without unions we would all be treated like illegals.

    • Tiglath Pileser

      I don’t know which I love more: tthe two-minute hate the corporatist media is currently running against the civil service employees of the DSNY or the legions of Boobus americanus who so easily fall for it. Misery does love company, I guess. Corporatism and universal suffrage are two evils that will be the death of America.

      • Tiglath Pileser

        jtigor, thanks to you as well as your horrid grammar and spelling for proving my point.

      • jtigor

        how’s yours?….2+2=22

      • jtigor

        sanitation,MTA,acting like they finished college and have bachelors degree.they demand too much at the expense of taxepayers.truth is they are ONE PLUS ONE EQUALS ELEVEN……GOT IT!!!!!

  • john brown

    Privitize all unions and give the responsibility of representing all workers to the big ( thieving) republican corporations. Only an ignorant Republican could come up with something like that.

  • Hung Low

    hey john keep your job at blockbuster

  • The BIG D

    Another example of union dirtbags. I hope the union is caught for the slow down and, under the Taylor Law, the contract with the city is ripped up and all the dirtbags get fired. Afterall, how hard can it be to replace a garbage man?

  • Former TA-Worker

    There is no rational basis for city workers to be unionized. It is a curse on all taxpayers.

    • jogn brown

      no wonder you are a former TA worker.

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