By: Jon Craig and Zak Failla
Westchester Democrats criticized County Executive Rob Astorino for remarks he made during a Monday forum about Nazi literature on display at a recent County Center gun show.
Astorino's responses to audience questions about the gun show and bomb threats at two local Jewish Community Centers were reported here by Daily Voice.
State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, issued a statement that said, “When confronted with the subject at last night’s town hall meeting, and asked his reaction to the county allowing hate material to be sold at the County Center Gun Show, the county executive passed it off as a First Amendment issue. That’s an unacceptable response and he owes the people of Westchester an apology."
“The county executive doesn’t seem to care that allowing Nazi and Confederate paraphernalia to be sold at a county facility sends a message that only encourages the type of people who engaged in yesterday’s threats of violence against Jewish community centers.
“The county executive’s view on dealing with this hatred and bigotry is myopic and simplistic. Disappointingly, last night he stated that one of his solutions is merely for the Jewish community to find ‘ways that they can protect themselves with buildings’. It is even worse that he implied that the County had a constitutional duty to allow the sale of hate literature at the County Center. Rather than being proactive to stanch the rise of these ugly acts, the County Executive appears content to sit back and only take action once something horrific has been committed.”
Paulin's family are members of one of the two Jewish Community Centers targeted by a bomb threat earlier Monday, as reported here, which Astorino also spoke about during the forum at White Plains City Hall.
Asked about the recent increase in hate crimes following Donald Trump's election as president, the Republican county executive condemned anti-Semitism, including the two JCC bomb threats, saying: “I can’t control what stupid people do," Astorino said. "This is Westchester. We don’t stand for it in any shape or form."
Astorino's answer fell short, according to Yonkers Democrat Ken Jenkins, who reacted: “Well, he can start with renouncing his support for a president who incites this type of hate to begin with. How about refusing to implement hurtful policies that show callous disregard for tolerance and equality.”
“Everything about it is offensive,” Jenkins added. “One, he locks out the very people who paid for it. Two, he shrugs off hateful acts. And three, he equates gun shows with libraries.”
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, also a Democrat, had this to say: "This is disgraceful. Highlights the importance of the county banning the sale of Nazi memorabilia at the County Center gun show."
"The county should not be promoting hate. And they are looking the other way. Most people who attend the gun show and purchase Nazi memorabilia are law abiding citizens. All we need is one person to get inspired by the Nazi memorabilia and anti-Semitism and there are problems," Feiner said.