Assemblymember Steck: Tolerance of All Religions is Important to the Safety of Our Community

“Last Monday, an incident involving a hate-filled rant occurred in the Crossings Park in my hometown of Colonie. I was deeply disturbed when I learned the details of what occurred. As a member of a minority religious faith, the safety of our religious minorities is very important to me not only as an elected official entrusted with protecting freedom of religion, but because of the history of my own family.

“Colonie is a very diverse Town. Multiple religious and cultural organizations have chosen to locate here. We have two mosques as well as an Islamic center, a Hindu temple, a Turkish center, a Buddhist temple, and a growing population of new Americans moving to Colonie from all over the globe. This incident does not reflect my community. Indeed, the individual who uttered these hate-filled words was not a Colonie resident.

“My office followed up on this incident immediately with the Colonie Police Department to verify that the Colonie Police swiftly investigated this incident. We were pleased to learn that an investigation was conducted by the Colonie Police and the State Police’s Hate Crimes Task Force, with review by the Albany County District Attorney’s office. Due to the sensitivity of the investigation, the Colonie Police brought in an interpreter, as well as a Colonie Police officer who is fluent in Arabic and was assisted by a Member of a local mosque. Since the subject of this investigation is a member of the United States military, his commanding officer was notified so that this matter may be addressed in accordance with military procedures. My office has further been in contact with the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations concerning this incident, and I have sent a message of sympathy to the family involved.”