Hempstead highway worker stunned by racist photo in office

NJ Burkett reports on the fallout from a photo of a baby gorilla being used to describe an African-American man in his workplace. (WABC)
April 29, 2014 3:38:24 PM PDT
Jimmy Howard said his co-workers at the Hempstead highway department laughed Monday afternoon when they showed him the bulletin board at their office where someone had posted a picture of a baby gorilla with the words, "Jimmy's Baby Picture."

"I was hurt ... I was crying on the way home," said Howard, who is black. He has worked at the department garage in Levittown for eight years.

Kate Murray, the town supervisor, has asked the police and the county district attorney to investigate. There is no surveillance camera of the area near the bulletin board, but access is limited to department employees.

Meanwhile, Howard is still struggling to express his pain and humiliation.

The township is nearly two-thirds Caucasian, and roughly 17 percent black. In 2007, Hempstead made headlines when a noose was found in a locker room at a local police department. It was considered an act of intimidation against a black assistant chief and remains unsolved.

Melvin Harris, president of the Hempstead branch of the NAACP, said solving this latest crime is not enough.

"The truth is, what would create a culture? That's the question," he said.