Vandals Spread Hate At Brooklyn Park, Kids Outdo Them With Messages Of Love

by Mike Julianelle

Kids cover swastikas on a playground with hearts and flowers

Friday morning, it was discovered that Adam Yauch Park, a playground in Brooklyn Heights named after the late member of the Beastie Boys, had been vandalized. Saturday morning, the local children who attend the park repudiated the hate crime in the only way they know how: with love.

A story on NPR details how the kids, just a day after seeing their neighborhood park defaced in the most hateful manner possible, replaced that hate with love.

The kids papered over the spray-painted swastikas and “Go Trump” message with cut-out pink hearts and messages of their own, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s oft-repeated Tony speech, “Love is love is love is love is love…” and one message proclaiming that the playground’s train “stops fascists.” They weren’t standing for that hateful sabotage.

The incident is just the latest in a disturbing string of hate crimes in the aftermath of President-Elect Trump’s election-night victory, incidents he has largely declined to comment on, aside from saying to “stop it” during an interview with Lesley Stahl on last Sunday’s “60 Minutes”. Thankfully, the future of the country doesn’t need “60 Minutes” to know that this kind of vandalism is unacceptable, and they’re stepping up, to fight back against hate with its exact opposite.

Kids always show us the way when it comes to responding to hate and negativity. We adults can learn something from their approach, seeing them cover something terrible and dark with something loving and beautiful.

I live in Brooklyn, not far from this park, which is exactly like 50 other playgrounds in the area where my kids and their friends play. The name Adam Yauch may not mean much to them, but the Jewish rapper – who played in the park as a child and had it named after him after he passed away from cancer in 2012 – was a beloved Brooklynite and a proactive human rights activist. I’m not sure we can count on the vandals to know much about him other than the fact that he was Jewish; I mean, they couldn’t even draw swastikas correctly. Sad!

Hooray for the children who took the park back with their handwritten signs of love and hope. You can join those kids, New York Councilman Brad Lander, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, religious leaders, other elected officials and at least one of the remaining members of the Beastie Boys for a “Stand Up Against Hate” rally taking place in the park today at 11:30 a.m.