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Anti-Asian graffiti on Bayside church angers civics

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Community leaders this week decried the racist graffiti spray painted on the exterior of a quiet Bayside Korean church early Christmas morning, and one Asian civic activist said it was time for the borough’s Koreans to speak out against hate.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Terence Park, chairman of the Korean American Association of Greater New York, came together to denounce the bigoted vandalism found on the Grace Korean Presbyterian Church at 216-50 28th Ave.

Avella, who had a long career as a Queens resident fighting graffiti and other quality-of-life issues, expressed his surprise about the incident.

“It’s by far the worst hate messages I’ve seen in northeast Queens since I’ve been involved with graffiti cleaning,” he said. “Whoever’s responsible should come forward and take their punishment.”

Park, a Korean native who has lived in Flushing 30 years and serves on the Human Rights Commission, also said he was shocked by the damage, which included anti-Asian remarks spray painted on the front door and exterior wall of the church and a broken windshield of a car parked in front of the building.

“I’ve lived in Flushing for 30 years and I’ve never, never seen any kind of racially motivated attack on Asians,” he said. “When you hear direct racial hatred like ‘gook’ and ‘chink,’ it makes you feel kind of small.”

“The Korean community tends to keep quiet,” Park said. “I told the pastor you have to speak out and let the Korean community know something happened in our neighborhood. We can come together with all community leaders who are fair-minded and have the American spirit.”

A group of people from the church that included high school students had been out in the neighborhood caroling on Christmas Eve and returned to the house of worship at about 1:30 a.m., Pastor Yon Kwon told the TimesLedger last month.

The Grace Korean Presbyterian Church, which has been on 28th Avenue since 1994, has established a solid relationship with the surrounding community and the nearby John Golden Park Block Association, Kwon said.

Avella and Park said the graffiti consisted of anti-Asian slurs as well as foul language.

“Someone had to go there deliberately to do this,” Avella said. “This is the type of incident that is, thank God, isolated.”

Park said he was not aware of similar incidents of racism against the Asian community in Queens.

“We all know there is a racial tension (in Queens) but we’ve been able to work together and live,” he said.

Police said anti-Asian remarks were also written on the hood of the damaged car, which police said had a brick thrown through the windshield. Kwon said it is the second act of vandalism against the church in about a year.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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