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November 3, 2020 2:54 pm

Jewish Organizations Demand Resignation of Long Island Sanitation Commissioner Over Antisemitic Facebook Posts

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Oceanside Sanitation Commissioner Ryan Hemsley. Photo: Courtesy of Ryan Hemsley.

Jewish organizations in Long Island have demanded the immediate resignation of the sanitation commissioner in the town of Oceanside because of a series of racist and antisemitic posts on social media.

A statement on Monday issued by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Long Island, American Jewish Committee Long Island, Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County, Simon Wiesenthal Center and StandWithUs called on Oceanside Sanitation Commissioner Ryan Hemsley to step down from his position because of “hateful social media posts…which include the denigration of victims of the Nazi Holocaust, antisemitism, white supremacy, ableism, and anti-black, anti-Muslim, misogynistic, and homophobic sentiments.”

When the offensive posts were revealed last month, Helmsley initially said that the entries on Facebook had been “doctored or completely made up.” He subsequently admitted to the Long Island Herald that he had been aware of the posts for many months, but that other people had posted them on his page, and that he was asked to remove them before commencing his role.

“These posts that were released are not who I am as a person,” Hemsley said on Oct. 15. “It is absolutely disgusting, and I did not post them. I am a veteran, family man and a member of an Oceanside volunteer group” — the Oceanside Community Warriors.

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The controversial posts, which included the n-word and jokes about the Ku Klux Klan and the Holocaust, among other things, were sent to the Herald by a group called Oceanside Against Racism. They were posted between 2014 and 2017, and featured racist jokes against African Americans and jabs at Jewish people that made light of the Holocaust. They also took aim at homosexuals and people with disabilities. The posts are no longer visible.

The statement put out by Jewish groups accused Hemsley of having “issued what can only be regarded as a disingenuous apology after he was caught in a lie, having originally denied responsibility for the hateful posts.”

Declared the statement: “The citizens of Oceanside deserve better than to be represented by someone who propagates so much hate against others.”

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