Editor’s note: There are photos and racial slurs noted in this article that people might find upsetting.
ITHACA, N.Y. — Racist graffiti has been spray painted at the Ithaca Skatepark and has been reported to the Ithaca Police Department.
Cynthia Henderson, who lives in Ithaca, said she took the photos Saturday morning and then reported it to the Ithaca Police Department in person.
The graffiti is in several locations and says things, such as “Death 2 all apes” and “F— ape ass n—–.”
“It breaks my heart, but I’m also not surprised. Racism has been an issue in this town that people just didn’t talk about for decades,” she said. “Like most places, Ithaca is a good place but we have a dark side.”
Henderson said she used to take her son Justin Baldessare to the skatepark when he was younger so he could rollerblade and still has photos of him wearing a helmet while skating on the ramps. Baldessare became an Ithaca Police officer in 2014.
Henderson, said she has lived in Ithaca for nearly 20 years and has recently seen an influx in this kind of openly racist, hateful behavior.
“Our current president has made it okay to be an open misogynist and racist and homophobe. He’s made it okay,” she said. “It breaks my heart, but its become okay in this country to be that way. So they’re not hiding anymore. It makes me sad and it scares me.”
Officer Jamie Williamson said the graffiti was reported at 10:32 a.m. and said police gathering information about the “despicable act.”
He said police are rarely called to the skatepark, located at Park, 401 Wood Street. When officers go to the area, he said it’s usually for quality of life issues, such as other skaters not sharing the ramps or not being respectful of each other.
“We do have graffiti down there but it usually has more of an artistic expression as opposed to filled with hate and disgust, as it is now,” he said.
Police Chief Pete Tyler said in a news release, “We take this despicable act very seriously. I have ordered the officers under my command to get to the bottom of this and bring to justice those who are responsible. This hate speech does not represent Ithaca as a whole or the men and women of the Ithaca Police Department in particular. This of course is all made worse by the fact that that it was done at a skate park, a place that children play and grow and flourish. I am asking for the public’s help in identifying the person(s) responsible.”
Aldermen Seph Murtagh and Ducson Nguyen, who both represent the second ward, saw the photos on social media and said the city would ensure the graffiti is removed.
Anyone with information about the incident is being asked to contact the police department using any of the following means.
Police Dispatch: 607-272-3245
Police Administration: 607-272-9973
Police Tipline: 607-330-0000
Anonymous Email Tip Address: www.cityofithaca.org/ipdtips
All photos, including the featured photo, were taken by Cynthia Henderson.