A swastika was found painted on a tree at the Floyd Bennett Field community garden in Brooklyn Saturday morning. The National Park Service Police said they were stepping up patrols. (Photos: Pat Cotillo, Jr)
By Geoffrey Croft
A swastika spray-painted on a tree and Polish anti-police graffiti were found scrawled in a beloved community garden at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on Saturday morning NYC Park Advocates has learned.
Polish flag colors were also painted on a picnic bench and tree.
The disturbing images were discovered by gardener in an area the non-profit community group that manages the area set up to attract wild life.
According to Adriann Musson president of the Floyd Bennett Field Gardens Association the incident occurred sometime between 4:30 pm on Friday and 8:00 am Saturday morning.
"I assume it was done on Friday night," said Ms. Musson who has been gardening there since 1992.
"We found a six-pack of Polish beer bottles in the picnic area and right across from our habitat area was the vandalism.
There was a swastika painted on a tree, one of our benches was turned in a Polish flag. I assume it was the Polish flag it was red and white. And rocks that we use in our planting area had the letters HWDP."
HWDP is the abbreviation for a derogatory anti-police phrase in Poland which means F*** The Police. The graffiti can be found on walls and buildings in Poland and is part of the hip-hop vocabulary according to published reports.
"I am hoping it was just a group of really stupid young people who decided to just do it," she said. "We have a very large community garden. We have over four-hundred and fifty members. We have every race, religion, ethnicity that you can imagine. Everyone gardens together and gets along.
"We've never had anything like this happen before. It came out of nowhere."
The letters HWDP were spray painted on rocks that border a flower bed planting area beside the swastika tree. HWDP is an abbreviation for a derogatory Polish anti-police slogan.
The garden president said she was so upset she took brown spray paint and covered up the offending swastika on the tree just to get rid of it.
"I'm upset, it bothers me. I could not leave it there and have people going around seeing it thinking we are ok with it. But we have to get the spray paint off the tree."
She said she was waiting for the National Park Service to send down someone to figure out how to get rid of the paint.
"Hate doesn't do any good," she added.
"What they are doing is generating more bad feelings. They need to work together and get along with one another. We garden, it doesn't matter where you come from or what you believe in. It's a sad commentary on the world today. It just makes no sense to me. Hate breeds hate."
National Park Service Police Sgt. Peter Culver said an active investigation is being conducted but admitted they did not have much evidence to help catch the perpetrators.
"Quite honestly there's really not much to go on. There are no witnesses to this incident.
We are doing what we can. We are stepping up patrols. It's a very remote area. There's not a heck of a lot to go on. We are going to keep our eyes out for it."
Sgt. Culver said the park is normally very quiet and cars speeding on the abandoned air strips were the main law enforcement issues in Floyd Bennett Field which is managed by the US Department Of The Interior's National Park Service.
"We really don't have a lot of issues out here, no we don't."
Pat Cotillo, Jr. was out taking photos of the nearby abandoned historic buildings when he said he was approached by a gardener who asked if he would document the vandalism.
"Its disturbing to see that there are so many people who still have so much hate," he said.
Since 1997 the Floyd Bennett Field Gardens Association has maintained and administerd the 7 acre garden under an agreement with the US Department Of The Interior, National Park Service, Gateway National Recreation Area, Jamaica Bay Unit.
Mrs. Musson said people come from all over the city to garden including residents from at least four of the five boroughs. Besides the over four-hundred and fifty current garden members, a hundred and fifty people are on a waiting list to join.
Each year the garden donates over 500 pounds of vegetables to City Harvest.
Squash, peanuts, artichokes, peppers and 36 different tomatoes are among the many items grown in the garden's 10x20' plots. The garden was created in 1977 as part of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension program. She said the biggest problem was during the Summer when people steal vegetables.
"Its great to find a place in the middle of Brooklyn where you feel like you are in the country. It really is a very peaceful place."
The incident was first reported by Queens Crap.
Two National Park Service employees, and Jill Weingarten from the Floyd Bennett Field Gardens Association at the site on Saturday.
The normally peaceful gardens were the scene of disturbing vandalism over the weekend.
Polish flag colors spray-painted on a bench and tree found on Saturday. (Photos: Pat Cotillo, Jr)
Signs of anti-Semitism at Floyd Bennett Field
Queens Crap - January 16, 2012
Brooklyn Daily - By Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News - January 16 2012 - By Simone Weichselbaum
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Swastika reported in Brooklyn park
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Metro New York - January 18, 2012 - By Emily Anne Epstein