Long Island Democrat on Local Town: ‘It’s full of those black people. All they want to do is play basketball’

Posted by on May 20, 2014 at 7:41 am

Don’t forget, folks, the Democrats are the party of African-Americans and only tea partiers are racist or something. Just imagine how big a story this would be if a Republican uttered such offensive statements.

Civic activists joined Nassau Democrats Monday as they kept pressuring a Democratic county legislator to resign over accusations that she made racially derogatory comments.

Freshman lawmaker Ellen Birnbaum, of Great Neck, attended her first legislative meeting since her comments about African-Americans came to light last week.

Beforehand, about 100 officials and protesters held a rally in front of the legislative building in Mineola. During the legislative session, a dozen more people spoke in opposition to the remarks — some directly addressing Birnbaum, who remained silent.

Michael Moore, 48, who is an African-American from Baldwin, told Birnbaum: “Live in these shoes, and try to have to explain to your children and your grandchildren that these are ‘just words’ and that [the speaker] ‘didn’t mean it.’ “

Birnbaum, a former Town of North Hempstead intergovernmental director, has apologized and called her comments “insensitive.” But she has refused to resign from her elected post, which pays $39,500 a year.

Yes, good luck with that, especially after this outburst:

Former Nassau Legis. Robert Troiano, a North Hempstead official, read an account of Birnbaum’s remarks, which he said came from a “collective recollection” of people who heard them directly. She was speaking to staff attorneys and was overheard by an aide to Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury).

“She said, ‘Why would anyone want to go there?’ Then . . . she added, ‘It’s a bad neighborhood,’ and ‘It’s a ghetto’ and . . . ‘It’s full of those black people,’ “ Troiano said Monday.

“She then . . . whispered, ‘Come on, who from the rest of the town is going to go there? After all, mostly black people live there,’ ” Troiano continued. “She later added, ‘All they want to do is play basketball.’ “

Asked about Troiano’s account, Birnbaum said, “Those are not my words.” She added, “I did not use ‘ghetto.’ ”

Birnbaum said she had referred to the community center not meeting revenue projections and “observed that kids play basketball there.” She said she had referred to the racial makeup of New Cassel, but when asked in the interview to repeat her exact words, she said she could not remember.

In an interview Monday, she said she’d “work every day to build bridges with the African-American community.”

And some of her best friends are black.

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