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Long Island: Hatred Rears its Ugly Head

28 August 2009 No Comment Email This Post Email This Post
Joesph BallanceJoesph Ballance

What is going on in Long Island county? There have been a string of violent attacks against minorities that are linked to racism and bigotry. The New York Post reports that less than a week ago,

two teenagers plead not guilty to assault as a hate crime in the robbery and beating of Ecuadorean day laborer Milton Balbuca. A 20-year-old also was charged in the Aug. 14 attack.

Police said they shouted anti-Mexican remarks and racial epithets as they attacked Balbuca near the Patchogue train station – the same area where another Ecuadorean immigrant, 37-year-old dry cleaning worker Marcelo Lucero, was stabbed and killed in November. Patchogue is about 15 miles southeast of Smithtown near Long Island’s southern shore.

Seven teenagers have pleaded not guilty to hate crime and other charges in Lucero’s death, which helped spur an ongoing U.S. Justice Department investigation into bias crimes on eastern Long Island.

Strife over thousands of immigrants from Central and South America has percolated in the area for nearly a decade, sometimes erupting in violence.

Two men are serving long prison terms for attempted murder after luring two Mexican laborers to a warehouse in 2000 with the promise of work, then beating them with shovels and landscaping tools. In 2003, teenagers tossed fireworks through a Mexican family’s window on the Fourth of July, damaging the home.

This pattern of racist hate attacks has now targeted Muslims, and in a case reminiscent of the one in Seattle involving Eric Gardner, a young man described as having a “virulent hatred for Islam” attacked two women and threatened to kill them because of their Islamic dress and religion. Of course, to those in the anti-Muslim cottage industry it won’t be anything, in fact they might spin it as a set up or as an unimportant minor incident. They will also deny any involvement or part in stoking the flames that contribute to such heinous crimes.

In the same article the NY Post reports,

A landscaper with a virulent hatred of Islam tried to run over two Muslim women at a suburban gas station after threatening to kill them because of their religion, police said Thursday.

Joseph Ballance, 23, pleaded not guilty Thursday to aggravated harassment in the Aug. 20 confrontation…Ballance approached 49-year-old Chervern Cartier and her 20-year-old daughter, who were wearing the traditional Muslim robes called abayas, in a service station parking lot in Smithtown, authorities said. The daughter’s name was not released.

After hurling epithets at the women and threatening to “chop you up into little pieces and kill you,” Ballance spat on their car and drove his own toward them before driving off, according to police and a court complaint.

The self-employed landscaper later told investigators, “They don’t belong here” and “They shouldn’t be walking around like that,” Detective Sgt. Robert Reecks said.

“He is full of hatred,” Reecks said. “He saw them, the way they were dressed, and it just set him off.”

Ballance was being held on $10,000 cash bond. He is represented by the county Legal Aid Society, where the telephone rang unanswered Thursday evening. The organization has a policy of not commenting on ongoing cases. A message left at his Islandia home wasn’t immediately returned.

The women weren’t hurt. One of them took down the license plate number on the car Ballance was driving and gave it to police, Reecks said. No working telephone number for Cartier could be found.

The misdemeanor aggravated harassment charge against Ballance is used for crimes related to a victim’s race, religion or certain other characteristics. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim advocacy group, urged authorities to consider federal civil rights charges against Ballance. A spokesman for federal prosecutors didn’t immediately return a telephone call Thursday evening.

So will the haters out there continue to claim that Islamophobia doesn’t exist? That it is a misnomer? That fearing someones religious dress is not irrational? Maybe Pamela Geller the “freedom fighter” will lionize this man and set up an elaborate defense that he was justified?

UPDATE: LI Hate Rant Against Two Muslim Women

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