Long-shot mayoral candidate Erick Salgado is entering the fray over Sheepshead Bay’s Holocaust Memorial Park, blasting the Parks Department for allowing the addition of stones memorializing non-Jewish victims.
A press release issued last week to Russian and Jewish news outlets but obtained by Sheepshead Bites quotes Salgado calling the installation of five new stones for non-Jewish victims “a betrayal of the community and even worse, disrespectful to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.”
The stones, which honor groups including the disabled, Roma, homosexuals and Jehovah’s Witnesses, were dedicated during a May 5 ceremony marred by a protest led by City Council candidate and Holocaust Memorial Committee member Ari Kagan. The protesters claimed that the group of activists who successfully pushed the new stones through had pulled an end-run around the committee, by going through the Parks Department.
Richard Landman, the gay son of Holocaust survivors who spearheaded the initiative for the stones, said that those allegations are phony, and that he had attempted to go through the committee and was repeatedly denied – with no explanation – over the course of 15 years. Landman, an attorney, complained to the city that the committee’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious,” and in violation of the state constitution. The Parks Department established an appeals process for the memorial as a result, and created a Blue Ribbon advisory panel to review Landman’s request – ultimately greenlighting it.
The stones were installed in June 2012, and dedicated on May 5, 2013.
But Salgado, a conservative reverend from Staten Island, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, sided with Kagan and the committee, claiming that the Parks Department should have ceded the decision on the stones to the local committee, in accordance with their Memorandum of Understanding.
“It is of great concern that a bureaucracy such as the Parks Department would take action that is counter to the community’s wishes, especially when it involves the memory of the six million who perished in the Holocaust and the thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families who visit the memorial each year,” Salgado said. “Was the proper decision pushed to the side by political concerns?”
Here’s the press release in full:
May 8, 2013
Mayoral Candidate Erick Salgado Blasts Parks Department’s Action
Controversial Memorial Stones Installed in Holocaust Memorial Park Without Community’s Approval
Mayoral Candidate Erick Salgado has termed the New York City Parks Department’s move to install five controversial memorial stones in Sheepshead Bay’s Holocaust Memorial Park, “a betrayal of the community and even worse, disrespectful to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.”
Salgado was referring to the Parks Department’s installation of large stones with inscriptions memorializing such groups as asocial elements (alcoholics and lesbians), political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals. The inclusion of these stones was contrary to the wishes of the Board of the Holocaust Memorial Committee, which under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Parks Department has been administering the memorial since its dedication in 1997.
The five stones were installed unceremoniously last July, but an unveiling ceremony was held Sunday by several organizations from outside the community.
“It is of great concern that a bureaucracy such as the Parks Department would take action that is counter to the community’s wishes, especially when it involves the memory of the six million who perished in the Holocaust and the thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families who visit the memorial each year. Was the proper decision pushed to the side by political concerns?” Salgado asked.