This article was written by Kelsey O’Connor and Jolene Almendarez.
ITHACA, N.Y. — Graffiti with racist language has been painted over at the Ithaca Skate Park. Police continue to investigate the incident.
The community responded quickly when images of the graffiti were shared on social media. The graffiti spray painted in several locations read, “Death 2 all apes” and “F— ape ass n—–.” Over the weekend, several members of the community including police and Mayor Svante Myrick showed up with paint and rollers to erase the messages tagged onto the skate park at 401 Wood St.
“We take this despicable act very seriously,” Ithaca Police Chief Pete Tyler said. “I have ordered the officers under my command to get to the bottom of this and bring to justice those who are responsible. This hate speech does not represent Ithaca as a whole or the men and women of the Ithaca Police Department in particular. This of course is all made worse by the fact that that it was done at a skate park, a place that children play and grow and flourish. I am asking for the public’s help in identifying the person(s) responsible.”
On Monday, Public Information Officer Jamie Williamson said police are still investigating the incident and had no updates. Questions have come up about whether the incident might be gang related. Williamson said police “have not uncovered any information that would suggest the graffiti was gang related.”
A source familiar with the area and the graffiti (but who says he did not paint it) said, however, that the Apes are a local gang and that the message was likely not intended to be racist.
Williamson said he is not familiar with a local gang that goes by that name “but we do have a presence of local, regional and national gangs … and we have gang activity on a smaller scale than, again, much larger cities and major metropolitan area.”
He said on Saturday that police are rarely called to the Skate Park, except for occasional quality of life issues, such as people not sharing ramps or becoming disrespectful toward each other.
“We do have graffiti down there but it usually has more of an artistic expression as opposed to filled with hate and disgust, as it is now,” he said Saturday, calling the spray painted statements “despicable.”
Anyone with information about the graffiti is asked to contact police using the following methods:
Police Dispatch: 607-272-3245
Police Administration: 607-272-9973
Drug Tipline: 607-330-0000