Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has ordered State Police and the state Division of Human Rights to investigate racist graffiti painted on a baseball dugout in Wellsville earlier this week.
A swastika and “Make America White Again” were found on the dugout one day after Donald Trump’s election. An image of the graffiti went viral, before village residents painted over it.
“New York has zero tolerance for bigotry, fear and hatred, and those who seek to undermine the core values this state and nation were founded upon,” Cuomo said in a statement released Saturday. “I have ordered a full investigation into this deplorable act, and those responsible for this conduct will be held to the fullest extent of the law.”
Wellsville Mayor Judy Lynch said the village is upset about the incident, and also pointed to incorrect news reports that the police chief saw “no need to take any action,” she said.
“Our local paper said our police weren’t responding and that was very upsetting. (Our police) didn’t even know about it until the paper called and told them about it,” Lynch said.
Wellsville, in Allegany County, has population of about 4,500.
“We had volunteers who came right down – a local paint store donated the paint and volunteers painted it over immediately because that is not our community. We don’t condone any graffiti.
Why they picked Wellsville to do that. We are not sure,” said Lynch.
Police Chief Timothy O’Grady said in a news release that media attention is exactly what the vandals wanted.
He called Wednesday’s graffiti an “isolated incident.”
O’Grady, in a statement, said the department has no suspects yet but detectives are “actively investigating the incident and will charge anyone responsible.”
Anyone who may have observed suspicious activity during overnight Monday is asked to contact the Wellsville Police Department at (585) 593-5600.
Lynch emphasized that the police department is not going to let this go away and will find the person or persons responsible.
In his statement, Cuomo also pointed out that the State Legislature had enacted legislation strengthening the penalties for hate crimes.
Cuomo also ordered a multi-agency investigation into an alleged hate crime at SUNY at Geneseo, where a residence assistant on Friday discovered graffiti, including a swastika and "Trump," at Nassau Residence Hall.
He added that all reported incidents will be investigated and pursued to the fullest extent of the law.