A new Pelham Bay deli serving Spanish-American food was victimized three times over three days. The incidents have been classified as bias attacks by the police.
The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit is investigating the ransacking and destruction of the interior of Lysette’s Deli and Market, which opened at 1610 Crosby Avenue on Tuesday, September 1. The owner of the deli said he found a letter stuck in his door when he opened on Wednesday, September 16, which he said read: “get out you Spanish bastards – move or else.”
The next day, his entire storefront was splashed with white paint. Then, the interior of his store was completely destroyed in a break-in occurring most likely sometime in the early morning of Friday, September 18. The owner said that about $35,000 to $40,000 worth of damage occurred.
“They tore some of the ceiling down, threw some sort of chemical on my electrical boxes, and stole and destroyed my merchandise,” said owner Peter Riotis. “This is a bias attack that was done out of spite. I have reported all three incidents to police.”
Passersby seemed disturbed by the incidents, but not all believed that the crimes were motivated entirely by prejudice.
“There are plenty of Spanish places in the neighborhood,” said one resident who did not want to be identified. “There is a newly remodeled Spanish-American restaurant next to Citibank and one across the street from it.”
Riotis’ next-door neighbor, Maria Gerbasi at Bella Casa Realty at 1612 Crosby Avenue, said that she wasn’t sure that ethnicity was the entire story.
“We have Elena’s Little Kitchen down the street and there are other places around here that serve Hispanic food,” Gerbasi said. “Some of these businesses have been here for years. I have been here for five years, and nothing like this has happened to me.”
Those living nearby were sympathetic to the plight of the new business owner, who is now asking for donations so he can reopen his business by Thanksgiving.
“This is a stupid attack because people are just trying to make a living,” said Jerry Proscia. “It is just a regular store that opened recently. I hate to see this. I wish I could catch whoever did it in the act.”
Riotis said that he is going to try to reopen as soon as possible, but doesn’t have a lot of insurance.
“I don’t have a very big insurance policy because I just opened my business,” he said. “So if anyone wants to make donations, please stop by.”
As of press time, the Hate Crimes Unit was still investigating the case.
©2009 Community News Group