(November 3, 2020 / JNS) Jewish organizations have called on a sanitation commissioner on Long Island, N.Y., to resign after anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic Facebook posts from his past have recently surfaced.
Ryan Hemsley, a commissioner on the five-member Oceanside Sanitation Board, was asked by board chairman Austin Graff to resign but has refused to do so, according to Graff.
Graff noted that the board does not have the power to remove commissioners; the only way for somebody to step down is to resign.
Hemsley denied the posts, saying on Oct. 15 that they were “doctored or completely made up.”
“These posts that were released are not who I am as a person,” he said as he apologized. “It is absolutely disgusting, and I did not post them. I am a veteran, family man and a member of an Oceanside volunteer group,” alluding to the Oceanside Community Warriors.
Jewish groups called for Hemsley to resign and said his apology was “disingenuous.”
“We are outraged at the hateful social-media posts made by recently re-elected Oceanside Sanitation Commissioner Ryan Hemsley, which include the denigration of victims of the Nazi Holocaust, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, ableism, and anti-black, anti-Muslim, misogynistic and homophobic sentiments,” they said in a statement. “No one posting such harmful and hateful thoughts should be representing New Yorkers in any public office.”
They added that “the citizens of Oceanside deserve better than to be represented by someone who propagates so much hate against others. Therefore, we ask Commissioner Hemsley to resign from his public post immediately and allow for someone else to represent the good people of Oceanside—someone who will restore decency and public trust, and will work not to sow division but rather to bring our communities together during these extremely trying times.”
The Jewish organizations included the American Jewish Committee’s Long Island branch, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island, the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and StandWithUs.
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