LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Town of Hempstead highway department worker is speaking out after being the target of an apparent racist incident.
Officials said a photo of a baby gorilla with the words “Jimmy’s baby picture” scrawled on top was found on a bulletin board at a Hempstead highway facility in Levittown.
Jimmy Howard said some of his co-workers were laughing at the picture when he arrived at work on Monday.
“They said, ‘you wanna see your baby picture on the wall?’ So I went to go look and they were laughing, like ‘what does it say, what does it say?'” Howard said.
“I was hurt. I felt embarrassed. It hurt me. I went home crying on the way home,” Howard said. “I was insulted, humiliated. Everybody’s laughing, ‘you see your baby picture on the wall?’ I mean, come on. So, I was hurt.”
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray called the picture “disgusting” and has reached out to the district attorney and the police to investigate the incident, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
“An absolutely disgusting act of racial hatred,” Murray said.
“Every worker deserves a safe work environment free of racism, discrimination and intimidation. We take these disturbing allegations seriously and are investigating them to determine whether evidence can prove that a hate crime was committed,” Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
Town officials and clergy gathered for a prayer of protest.
“I wonder today what would cultivate such an enviroment where someone would feel that comfortable by placing the monkey on a bulletin board,” Hempstead NAACP president Melvyn Harris said.
“As an African-American, the only one who serves on the town board, I am offended and I am repulsed by this action,” Hempstead Town Board member Dorothy Goosby said.
“We will not rest here in the Town of Hempstead until the perpertrator is found. We will move to terminate that employee. There is absolutely zero tolerance for any kind of racial hatred,” Murray added.
Murray also vowed to have whoever’s responsible for the picture arrested.
“Come forward, just come forward. If he had a problem with me, he could’ve said it to my face,” Howard, an 8-year employee of the town highway department, said.
Howard said this isn’t the first time he’s been racially targeted at work, but he did not provide details of past incidents, according to 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.
Murray said the town will not tolerate this kind of behavior again. In 2007, two nooses were found in a Town of Hempstead garage building.
She added all the employees who work in the Levittown facility will undergo new intensive diversity training.
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