Hempstead Village worker suspended over racially insensitive video
A Village of Hempstead worker was suspended after officials say he posted a racially insensitive video on Facebook.
The video shows a hose squad violently blasting protesters to the ground with water. It was posted by Gaetano Leone, an employee in the Department of Public Works and a village firefighter. The captioned quote on the video is: “This is how we should deal with rioters."
Newsday reported that the setting of the video was “unclear, but protesters appear to be carrying Venezuelan flags.”
Barbara Powell of the NAACP's Hempstead Branch condemned it as insensitive and offensive.
“For my ancestors it was horrible,” she said. “They fought for civil rights just so that they could be treated equally in the world.”
Powell says the video is a painful reminder of the violent suppression of civil rights protesters in the 1960s with high-pressure water hoses. She says the post is disheartening considering the ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations nationwide over police brutality and racial inequality.
Powell wrote a letter to Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan about the posting. The mayor agreed that Leone crossed the line.
“It's certainly something that I find to be unacceptable,” he told News 12. “The outcome is he's been suspended without pay until July 13. Additionally, he has to take a sensitivity training class.”
Mayor Ryan says Leone can return to work after he completes his three-week suspension and sensitivity training.
News 12’s attempts to contact Leone, his union representative and the village fire department for comment were unsuccessful.