Hundreds of New Yorkers came together to protest hate messages and offensive symbols Sunday at a Brooklyn Heights park that is named after a late Beastie Boys star.
Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York Sen. Daniel Squadron and Beastie Boys member Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz were among the large crowd who flooded Adam Yauch Park to spread messages of love and unity days after playground equipment was defaced with two swastikas and a pro-Trump message.
"Offensive symbols and discrimination have no place in our city," Stringer said. "Especially in our playgrounds and in front of our kids."
Adam "MCA" Yauch was Jewish. The Beastie Boys star died from cancer in 2012.
Public Advocate Letitia James joined protesters in a rendition of "This Land is Your Land" as others carried signs with slogans like "We Gotta Fight for Our Rights" and "Love Wins." Two men played snare drums to the tune of the song.
Visitors laid flowers near the park entrance as a peace offering in an effort to put messages of hate to rest. The metal locomotive jungle gym showed no trace of the offensive graffiti as kids played on the park's recreational equipment.
Horovitz was upset that someone defaced the playground dedicated to his late friend, but was glad to see so many come together to protest against the disrespectful actions.
"Everybody that heard about this came out," he said, smiling. "We got old friends and new friends."
Among those old friends was actor Ben Stiller, who said the singular event is representative of a larger wave of hate crimes that have taken place in recent times.
"It's important for us to stand up and say it's not all right," he said. "It's important for the president-elect to say it's not okay, too."
Stiller called on President-elect Donald Trump to take a stand against the acts of intimidation happening across the country.
Amid reports of a spike in acts of hate or intimidation, Trump said in a Nov. 13 interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" that he did not hear about the violence and harassment in his name or in some cases directed at his supporters, other than "one or two instances."
He added: "I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, 'Stop it.' If it -- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: 'Stop it.'"
The Southern Poverty Law Center said that there were 701 hateful incidents of harassment reported around the country in the week since the presidential election, though not all reports have been verified. About 65 percent of the incidents were from the first three days following the election, and there has been a steady drop-off since, the hate-tracking group said.
The Sunday afternoon rally in Brooklyn Heights is one of several that have taken place throughout the city protesting hate speech and offensive symbols. According to the NYPD, police are investigating 31 percent more hate crimes this year compared to 2015.
In midtown Sunday, protesters gathered at the Grand Hyatt hotel to await President-elect Donald Trump’s newly appointed Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who was expected to attend a gala there. Some of those rallying said Bannon is an anti-Semite.