When Ben White stepped outside his home on Friday, March 16, he discovered the dreary day was darker and meaner than he could have imagined.
During the night of March 15/16, an individual or a group spray-painted his house at 62D in the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative development with sentiments to make a Nazi proud.
Multiple racial slurs, F-bombs and swastikas adorned one entire side and half the back of the home. The perpetrators were apparently armed with a single can of spray paint.
The neighborhood is cheek-by-jowl with cozy, well-kept homes and tight streets and alleys, many with a nautical flair.
As White voiced his outrage, so, too, came condemnation from the president of the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative.
The two disagree about whether White should be allowed to remain in the development over separate issues, but the graffiti earned their shared opinion.
“We find this action deplorable, indefensible and unacceptable,” said Keith Freder, president of the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative for the past five years. “This is not a reflection on Edgewater or its shareholders. Whoever did this acted alone in violation of the law. We have cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the police on this issue. Personally, and speaking for the board, we condemn this act. It goes against everything we believe in.”
The Edgewater Park governing board of 13 recently voted 13-0 to recommend the shareholders at 62D forfeit their ownership shares. On March 21, co-op members at their annual meeting will be asked whether the owner and residents of 62D should sell and vacate. Freder confirmed the letter is official.
White has lived in the home with his wife and children for 30 years. His mother-in-law is the owner; she’s lived there 50 years.
“In all that time, we never had anything like this,” he said. “We’ve seen the usual Halloween nonsense that everyone sees, but nothing to equal this. Not even close.”
White believes the board letter has given neighborhood youths “a free license to harass us.”
Freder refused to go into specifics of the dispute that could lead to 62D losing its co-op rights. The letter accuses residents at the address of “breaking curfew, assaulting security, damaging people’s houses and cars, fighting in the streets, keeping other residents up to all hours of the night, underage drinking on co-op property, driving recklessly, littering and not to mention numerous parking violations and showing no concern for residents.” It notes two violations by co-op statute: vehicle regulation and personal conduct.
White refuted the charges one by one. Yes, he said, neighborhood youths have been known to create a ruckus. “That’s been going on 50 years,” he said. “I am being scapegoated for the bad behavior of everyone’s kids. They run through the alleys. They broke a window on the house over there.”
He pointed to the hate-scrawls and said, “This is about race. My two grandchildren are half-Hispanic.”
Freder disagreed: “It has been insinuated that race is an issue here,” he said. “Race was very much not an issue with the board’s unanimous decision to present the proposal to the members.”
Police from the 45th Precinct said the investigation was preliminary. The case has been referred to the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit.