NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD is trying to track down a man accused of spray painting anti-Muslim graffiti on a public school in Brooklyn.
This comes after a similar incident at a nearby bus shelter.
Police said the suspect, believed to be about 60 years old, spray painted anti-Muslim statements on several doors at P.S. 25 elementary school on East 29th Street in Sheepshead Bay.
The Sheepshead Bay Muslim Center is just around the corner from the school.
“It’s terrible. I did not expect that this would still be happening today,” Nadrah Zamzami, of Sheepshead Bay, told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.
“It’s so effortless to write bad words on a wall and so mean at the same time,” said Muslim parent Adam Agolli.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was “absolutely sickened” by the “Islamophobic act.” He directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes unit to assist the NYPD in the investigation.
“As a state and a nation we must come together to condemn hate in all its forms and denounce with one voice anyone who wishes to divide us,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “Our message to those who spew this bigotry is simple: there is no place for hate in New York State and anyone found responsible for this heinous act will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
The next day, City Councilman Chaim Deutsch tweeted photos of similar, hateful graffiti found on a bus shelter on Nostrand Avenue.
“We cannot and will not tolerate hate of any kind in New York City,” he wrote.
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force has not linked the incidents but said it’s looking into whether they were related.
“Let people live, let each other live. Don’t hurt them, they don’t hurt you. So that’s my philosophy,” Kristiina Kago said.
“We haven’t done anything so that you wouldn’t be able to come and approach us in a normal way, in an understanding way where we can solve our issues,” Zamzami said. “Because that’s all we’ve been trying to do in this community with building a mosque and with just living our everyday lives. We’ve just been trying to coexist.”
Earlier this month, the NYPD released statistics that found hate crimes spike 64 percent this year compared to last. Police say they are working diligently to eliminate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.