BEHIND THE HATE

New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer was out for a run when he discovered anti-immigrant posters plastered in his neighborhood. Tonight he shares his reaction and details on the investigation into who is behind the hate.

Aired on October 12, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> SUNNY SIDE QUEENS IS ONE ONE OF THE MOST DIVERSE COMMUNITIES IN THE WORLD.

IMMIGRANTS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE CALL IT HOME.

RECENTLY AN ANTI IMMIGRANT SIGN CREATED BY A NATIONAL WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUP WAS ANON ANONYMOUSLY POSTED IN THE COMMUNITY.

IT READ, QUOTE, A NOTICE TO ALL SINTS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IT IS YOUR CIVIC DUTY TO REPORT IN AND ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS TO U.S. IMMIGRATIONS AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT.

THEY HAVE BROKEN THE LAW, END QUOTE.

THAT, THEN, WAS THE SIGN SEEN BY NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL MEMBER JIMMY VAN BREMER.

HE DECIDED HE NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

HE JOINS ME NOW WITH THE DETAILS AND THE COMMUNITY'S REACTION.

ALWAYS NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION?

YOU'RE GETTING YOUR RUN IN AND -- THERE ARE ALWAYS SIGNS UP AROUND AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, YOU SEE THIS ONE.

SHOCK, BECAUSE AS I GREW CLOSER TO IT, I COULD SEE THE OMINOUS MESSAGE INCLUDED ON IT AND, ALSO, IT LOOKED SEMI OFFICIAL.

IT HAD A REAL NUMBER FOR I.C.E.

AND INVESTIGATIONS UNIT.

SO THAT'S WHAT STOPPED ME LITERALLY IN MY TRACKS AS I WAS RUNNING, IS THE OMINOUS NATURE OF IT AND THE FACT THAT IT WAS MEANT TO INTIMIDATE OUR IMMIGRANT NEIGHBORS.

WHAT DID YOU DO THEN?

WELL, I KNEW IT HAD TO COME DOWN, BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT ONE MORE FAMILY TO GO DOWN SKILLMAN AVENUE AND SEE THAT AND THINK, WOW, EVERYONE IS OUT TO GET ME.

MY HUSBAND WAS NEARBY AT THE GYM THAT WE GO TO.

I WANTED HIM TO SEE IT.

AND THEN I SAID WE HAVE TO TAKE IT DOWN, AND I WANT TO RECORD IT AND SHARE IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY THERE ARE.

THEY COULD BE IN LOTS OF OTHER PLACE, BUT I WANTED TO LET OTHER NEIGHBORS KNOW, IF YOU SEE THIS HATE, TAKE IT DOWN RIGHT AWAY.

WHAT DID YOU FIND OUT SUBSEQUENTLY ABOUT OTHER SIGNS BEING UP AND WHO THE AUTHORS WERE?

WELL, WE FOUND OUT VERY QUICKLY THAT A WHITE SUPREMACIST HATE GROUP IN TEXAS, VANGUARD AMERICA, HAS CREATED THIS POSTER, TOOK CREDIT FOR CREATING THESE POSTERS.

WHAT SORT OF REACTION ARE YOU GETTING FROM COMMUNITY MEMBERS FOR THESE SIGNS?

PEOPLE ARE, FOR THE MOST PART, HORRIFIED, OBVIOUSLY.

THERE'S BEEN A GREAT COMING TOGETHER.

TRAGICALLY TWO MORE POSTERS APPEARED LAST NIGHT.

I DIDN'T SEE THOSE, BUT NEIGHBORS SAW THEM AND HAD ALREADY STARTED DEFACING THEM AND ULTIMATELY COVERED THEM UP WITH PRO-IMMIGRANT MESSAGES AND NEIGHBORS ABOUT BEING SANCTUARY NEIGHBORS.

SO I'M REALLY PROUD OF MY DISTRICT AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE OF GOOD FAITH AND GOOD CONSCIENCE AND WHO ARE PROTECTING THEIR NEIGHBORS.

THAT'S WHY WE TALK ABOUT BEING A SANCTUARY CITY.

A SANCTUARY CITY HAS TO HAVE SANCTUARY NEIGHBOR, NEIGHBORS WHO PROTECT ALL NEIGHBORS, INCLUDING IMMIGRANTS.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ONE OF YOUR CONSTITUENTS WHO CAME UP AND SAID, LOOK, I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND SOMETHING, I AM NOT SOMEBODY LIKE THIS GROUP.

I EMBRACE THE IMMIGRANTS IN OUR COMMUNITY, BUT I'M CONCERNED ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND AS A CONSEQUENCE THIS PERSON SAYS TO YOU, I'M LOOKING AT THIS SIGN AND SAYING, ALL RIGHT, WE CAN EMBRACE THOSE WHO ARE HERE LEGALLY AND ARE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY AND HAVE BEEN SIMULATED INTO OUR COMMUNITY, BUT IT DOESN'T MEAN WE SHOULDN'T BE ENFORCING THE LAWS WITH REGARD TO PEOPLE HERE ILLEGALLY.

IF THAT CONSTITUENT SAYS TO YOU, SO, FOR THAT REASON, I'M LOOKING AT THIS SIGN AND I'M THINKING, I'M NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO PUT IT UP, I DON'T HAVE THE SAME KIND OF BELIEFS, BUT I ALSO CAN SEE THE SAME KIND OF NOTION -- WE SAY, IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.

IF YOU SEE SOMEONE BREAKING INTO SOMEONE'S HOUSE, WE'RE TOLD TO CALL 911.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH BEING TOLD, IF THERE ARE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS HERE, WE SHOULD LET THE GOVERNMENT KNOW ABOUT THAT?

HOW DO YOU ANSWER THAT?

FIRST OF ALL, I WOULD SAY IN MY VIEW NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL.

THIS IS A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS.

ALL OF US COME TO THIS COUNTRY OR OUR GRANDPARENTS DID ON A PARTICULAR JOURNEY.

FOR SOME THAT INCLUDED DOCUMENTATION.

FOR SOME IT DOESN'T.

WHAT IS SO PERNICIOUS ABOUT THIS FLIER AND THE RESPONSE TO IT, IT'S CALLING ON PEOPLE TO BECOME VIGILANTES, CALLING ON PEOPLE TO IDENTIFY AND CALL INTO I.C.E.

ENFORCEMENT AGENTS PEOPLE WHO THEY BELIEVE ARE UNDOCUMENTED.

BUT HOW DOES ANYONE KNOW WHO IS UNDOCUMENTED SIMPLY BY LOOKING AT THEM?

WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO HERE, WHAT THEY'RE TRYING TO DO HERE IS TO PROFILE, IS TO CAST GUILT UPON EVERY IMMIGRANT REGARDLESS OF THEIR STATUS AND TO VILIFY THEM AND TO FRIGHTEN THEM IN THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS.

SO I DISAGREE WITH THOSE WHO SAY I SUPPORT IMMIGRANTS BUT ONLY CERTAIN TYPES OF IMMIGRANTS.

THERE ARE SO MANY FAMILIES IN MY DISTRICT AND IN QUEENS AND IN THIS CITY WHO ARE UNDOCUMENTED FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER.

THEY ARE PEACEFUL.

THEY ARE LAW ABIDING.

THEY ARE WORKING.

THEIR CHILDREN ARE IN OUR SCHOOLS, AND THEY ARE GOOD NEIGHBORS AND THEY NEED TO BE PROTECTED, NOT VILIFIED.

WE CANNOT HAVE CITIZENS RUNNING AROUND SUNNYSIDE SAYING I THINK THAT PERSON IS UNDOCUMENTED, I'M CALLING I.C.E.

THAT'S ABSOLUTE INSANITY.

IS THERE ANYTHING LEGALLY THAT CAN PREVENT THIS GROUP FROM TEXAS FROM COMING TO YOUR DISTRICT AND PUTTING THESE SIGNS UP?

PUTTING UP THE SIGNS IN AND OF ITSELF IS ILLEGAL.

IT'S DEFACING PROPERTY.

WE ALL SEE SIGNS THAT SAY NO POSTING OF SIGNS HERE IN CERTAIN PLACES.

YOU CAN'T GO AROUND ANYWHERE --

THEY COULD BE FINED FOR PUTTING UP THE POSTERS IF WE CAN FIND WHO DID IT.

THAT'S WHY WE ASKED THE NYPD HATE CRIMES INVESTIGATIONS UNIT, IF WE CAN CATCH THOSE DOING THIS ON CAMERA, MAYBE WE CAN IDENTIFY THEM AND FINE THEM.

I WOULD ALSO ARGUE THESE ARE HATE CRIMES.

IF THAT'S THE CASE, THEN FOLKS SHOULD BE PROSECUTED.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU, WHAT DO YOU SAY TO YOUR COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHO COME TO YOU AND SAY, I'M PUZZLED BY THIS, I'M TROUBLED BY THIS, I'M IN SOME WAYS FRIGHTENED BY THIS?

WHAT SORT OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?

I WOULD SAY IF FOLKS ARE IMIGRANTS AND ARE FRIGHTENED, KNOW THE VAST MAJORITY OF US ARE HERE TO WORK WITH YOU AND EVEN PROTECT YOU.

MY OFFICE IS A SANCTUARY OFFICE FOR EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN MY COMMUNITY, AND THIS NEIGHBORHOOD, IN PARTICULAR SUNNY SIDE, BUT QUEENS, IS MADE UP OF GOOD PEOPLE, SANCTUARY NEIGHBORS WHO WANT TO BE WITH YOU, WHO WILL STAND WITH YOU, WHO WILL FIGHT FOR YOU, SO DON'T BE AFRAID, THIS IS STILL A SANCTUARY CITY EVEN IF THERE ARE SOME AMONGST US WHO HAVE HATRED IN THEIR HEARTS.

COUNCIL MEMBER, ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO TALK TO YOU.

TROUBLING TIMES, TROUBLING ISSUE.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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