Dec. 6, 2018 By Laura Hanrahan
A Williamsburg church that saw its religious statues vandalized and broken over the weekend has been gifted more than $2,000 to restore them.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, along with religious leaders of Jewish and Muslin faiths, announced their contributions on Tuesday to Our Lady of Consolation Roman Catholic Church, where a man desecrated two angel statues just days ago.
The unidentified vandal, according to police, urinated on the statues outside 184 Metropolitan Ave. early Sunday morning, and then pushed them to the ground, causing them to shatter.
The recent destruction marks the sixth time in eight years that the statues at Our Lady of Consolation have come under attack. Most recently, vandals tipped the statues over causing damage two years ago.
“Our message today is both a tangible one of contributing to the restoration of the statues but is also a symbolic one,” Adams said. “When a swastika is painted on a wall of a synagogue, it should not have to be the Jewish community to paint over that swastika. When a Catholic church is damaged, it should not be someone of the Christian faith to replace it.”
While Monsignor Kieran Harrington, Vicar for Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, thanked his fellow religious leaders for the donations, he asked that the funds be spent on two pressing issues affecting the city rather than on restoring the statues: homeless children and the opioid epidemic.
“We can fix the statue, but it’s a statue,” Harrington said. “There are a lot of problems in the city and we’re grateful for the religious leaders coming together.”
Talk soon turned to the rise of hate crimes not only in the city, but across the country during the press conference.
Many attributed the cause to rhetoric coming from the Trump administration.
“The rise in hate crimes is not a coincidence,” said Kashif Hussain, co-founder of the Pakistani American Youth Society, who said he spoke on behalf of the Islamic community when denouncing the destruction of the two statues as heinous and cowardly. “They are directly proportional to the choices in words and policy that are coming from this administration in the White House.”
Hussain’s sentiments were echoed by Evan Bernstein, the New York/New Jersey Regional Director at the Anti-Defamation League, who added that “we are seeing a normalization of hate in our society and it cannot continue.”
Adams ensured that steps would be taken over the next several weeks to address the rise of hate crimes in Brooklyn.
“We are going to start having real conversations on the ground and building coalitions because the voices of tolerance will outshadow the voices of hate.”