Defaced Perry Gershon campaign signs stenciled with the phrases “BABY KILLER” and “GAY LOVER” have appeared in various locations in the First Congressional District, prompting a Long Island civil rights organization to demand that the incidents be investigated as a hate crime.
The Woodbury-based LGBT Network is also demanding Rep. Lee Zeldin publicly denounce the actions allegedly undertaken by the Republican candidate’s supporters.
“Supporters of Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin have shown their true colors by defacing lawn signs with anti-gay rhetoric,” LGBT Network president David Kilmick said.
“We are not even 72 hours removed from the deadliest anti-Semitic attacks in American history on the Jewish community and it is unconscionable that these signs displaying hate toward the LGBT community would appear throughout Suffolk County,” Kilmick said in a statement issued Tuesday morning.
Reports of the defaced signs began appearing on social media this weekend. A spokesperson for the LGBT Network said this morning he was not sure how many defaced signs have been reported but he personally knows multiple people who have picked them up off the roadside.
“This incident continues an onslaught by Republican candidates on the LGBT community over the past few months,” Kilmick said.
“It is imperative that Congressman Zeldin immediately denounce these hate-filled signs and immediately cease this tactic that incites violence and results in people being hurt and killed,” he said.
“We have no idea who did this, but they should stop immediately,” Zeldin campaign communications director Chris Boyle said this morning.
“We have also been dealing for several weeks with Zeldin for Congress signs being defaced and stolen from private property,” Boyle said.
“Political violence and hate have no place in our political discourse. Whether it is defacing political signs, or assaulting people with opinions different than your own, scores need to be settled at the ballot box, not with hate and violence. Whoever is responsible needs to be held accountable,” Boyle said.
“Hate mongering has no place in America, especially in political campaigns,” Democratic candidate Gershon said in a statement this morning.
“The conversation with voters should be about ideas for improving their lives. I am proud to stand with women in fighting for the right to let them choose what is best for their own bodies, and I am proud to stand with the LGBTQ community in fighting for equality,” Gershon said.
“This is a nonpartisan, human issue. Toning down incivility is the only constructive path forward for Long Island and the country,” he said.
“I encourage Lee Zeldin to join me in condemning hate-based violence, intolerance, and related vandalism, wherever it occurs, and whomever perpetrates it.”
Boyle said the Zeldin campaign posted a condemnation of the action on Facebook yesterday. But Zeldin’s statement was coupled with the condemnation of an alleged assault by a “Gershon staffer” of a college student asking the candidate a question. With it, the campaign shared a YouTube video of the incident, posted Oct. 24 by New York Federation College Republicans. In it, a woman walking with Gershon slaps away what appears to be a microphone as they are exiting a building.
Gershon communications director Tim Minton said the woman in the video was Gershon’s wife, not a staffer. Zeldin has been paying “trackers with cameras, up to seven at a time, to follow around and harass Perry and his family wherever they go,” Minton said. “The sole purpose is to create an internet moment, something they can use to deflect attention away from things they’d rather not discuss, like these signs.”
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