Almost every one of us chose to live in Lewisboro for the same reason: A good, safe place with excellent schools for our children. We knew the commute to the city was long and there was a scarcity of retail stores, but that was part of the point. What we got in exchangea real community with real neighborsfar outweighed any inconvenience.
Crime? Oh, every community in Westchester has its share of domestic disturbances and bike thefts and mailbox bashing. And sometimes worse. We couldnt expect perfection, though we always try, as a community, to improve ourselves and help each other in times of trouble.
Buta hate crime? Here ? Really? The words F--- you Jews in large, black spray-painted letters on a private South Salem home, with large swastikas and lewd depictions of genitalia?
It happened in the dead of night against a family with four children, leaving them shocked and terrorized.
This is such a sad occurrence for all of us. It is a crime against our wonderful community, not just one family.
When I first got word of this, Monday morning, I was puzzled. There must be some explanation. It must be the work of one very disturbed individual, probably not from around here.
How horrible to discover the crimes may have been committed by four local teenaged boys and one teenaged girl.
This distressing event is exacerbated because it was not one lone local misguided youth who engaged in this felony, but several whose hearts and minds believed this was a good idea. Indeed, on the same evening, they also defaced school property, postal vehicles and other private property in the community. If five local teens could gang up in such a hateful way, how many more could have been rustled up that easily?
I attended the arraignment of four of the teens on Monday evening at the Lewisboro Town Court. The small stuffy room was packed with lawyers and parents of the accused and about fifty local citizens who represented both the Jewish and Christian community. I believe there would have been many more people if the community had knownas of today, most of Lewisboro is still just hearing about what happened over the weekend.
The arraignment proceedings were mostly calm with a few dramatic outbursts from the outraged victims and their supporters. Orders of protection were issued against the perpetrators at request of the victims and it took more than 30 minutes and an off-the-record discussion to work out how the perps and the victims could still attend the same school while the case moves forward. Most everyone in the room was flabbergasted that expulsion would not be automatic for the students who not only committed heinous crimes off-campus, but also on campus propertythus also violating the schools Code of Conduct. The judge finally decided that the school would make the decision on how to handle that matter.
This morning, I heard someone in the community dismiss the aspect of hate crime, because the youths didnt really fully understand the meaning of a swastika. Aside from ignorance not being a defense against the law, I dont buy it. Those youths knew what a swastika means, just as they know what a noose or burning cross means to African-Americans. That is precisely why they chose a swastika to terrorize the Jewish familyit is the Nazi emblem, a symbol of Jewish genocide. If the youths learned how to create a Nazi symbol, they certainly knew what it meant. They didnt, for instance, paint a peace symboland I am certain they know what that looks like and what it stands for.
We shall get past this awful occurrence, because we chose to live in Lewisboroa very special community. We will work, as we always have, to improve ourselves. We will notcannotallow weeds of anger and hatred to take root.
Dana Ramos is a 14-year resident of Lewisboro. Read her work samples and new blog at DanaRamos.com
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