Bias graffiti targets African-American judge

January 25, 2008 4:46:00 PM PST
Bias graffiti found spray painted inside the Brooklyn Courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn Friday morning was targeted at the first African-American judge elected to the Brooklyn Surrogate Court, according to authorities. Police say the graffiti, found inside an elevator in the courthouse, referenced Judge Diana Johnson and the racial slur commonly referred to as the N-word. The graffiti apparently read, "Diana Johnson is a dumb (n-word)."

Johnson joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and others at a news conference at Borough Hall in Brooklyn Friday afternoon.

Johnson was elected to the Brooklyn Surrogate Court last November, in what was a stunning defeat for the Brooklyn Democratic County boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

She was frequently referred to as a do-the-right thing candidate backed by the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats and similar reform groups.

Council Member Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) issued the following statement on the incident:

"Like all New Yorkers of goodwill, I am outraged about this incident and I want to join my colleagues in government in denouncing this act of hatred. In order to end the disease of intolerance and racism, I believe that we have to take very definitive and public stands when these incidents occur, especially when statistics show that hate crimes are on the rise in our city.

"When swastikas were sprayed on a Queens' synagogue, we had to take a stand. When an African American named Skylar McCormick was beaten by a group of white males on Staten Island, we had to take a stand. And when a group of teenagers assaulted Rafael Cruz on a Brooklyn subway train and filmed it, we had to take a stand. Today is no different- this City, our community, is standing up to the ugliness of racism.

"Today's incident is yet another confirmation that the n-word is still a word of hate and carries with it all the memories of fear, intimidation and violence that is part of our nation's painful history. However, today we will stand with Judge Johnson and send a powerful message to the City that although the n-word and racism is still alive and well, we have every intention of bringing about its demise."