HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Hate reared its ugly head this week at a public meeting in Rockland County.
It happened during a hearing over a proposed synagogue on Riverglen Drive in Haverstraw, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported Friday.READ MORE: SEE IT: Explosion Rocks Home, Sparks Fire Overnight In Cypress Hills; 6 People Hurt
A planning board meeting at Haverstraw Town Hall turned chaotic Wednesday night when Nick Colella, 45, went off on a hateful tirade against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The remarks were akin to what one might read on social media. But these were said out loud.
“Certain sect of people tend to walk in the street, and nobody is wearing any reflective gear. So if I run one of them over, and of course I’m going back over them again,” Colella said.
It seemed Colella was being encouraged after the remarks as one person shouted, “Freedom of speech!”
“I was here that evening and I was totally thrown off by what was said publicly,” said Collin Dunner, who moved to Haverstraw five years ago.
Dunner said what happened at the meeting does not reflect the broader community.
“It’s a shame that one man makes so much noise and suddenly the focus is on the Town of Haverstraw because we really have been welcomed. We’ve been accepted,” Dunner said.
Video of the meeting was shared by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council. Co-founder Yossi Gestener said what wasn’t said hurts, too.READ MORE: Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Mississippi Abortion Case
“To me, the most concerning part of that speech is how so many people in the room applauded, laughed or remained silent as someone was out there spewing inflammatory hate, lies and generalizations,” Gestener said.
“Call it ignorant or hateful. It doesn’t really matter either way, frankly. It’s not a good day for Rockland County because of someone with a big mouth, frankly” said County Executive Ed Day.
Day said they’ve tried to get communities together for years, not drive a wedge between them.
“We are not a county of hate, and when somebody does something like this and it gets spun as that, it hurts all of us,” Day said.
I have heard reports of violent rhetoric towards our Jewish community at a town meeting in Rockland County. Antisemitism, like all forms of hate, is horrifying and unacceptable.
Everyone has the right to walk down the street without fear. New York, we are better than this.
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) November 11, 2021
Attorney General Letitia James called the comments “appalling and unacceptable.”
The remarks made against our Jewish neighbors at a Rockland County town meeting tonight are appalling and unacceptable.
We will not tolerate any form of antisemitic bigotry in any corner of our communities, period.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) November 12, 2021
Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard Phillips said hate won’t be tolerated.
“Unless he comes in and apologizes for his statements and asks for forgiveness, he will not be allowed to speak at any of our meetings,” Phillips said.
Town leaders said the video does not show the countless number of people who confronted Colella and said he’s wrong.MORE NEWS: 15-Year-Old Student In Custody After Shooting That Killed 3, Wounded 8 At Michigan High School
CBS2’s Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.