Floral Park man charged with scrawling derogatory graffiti on Muslim-owned shop window

Originally published in Newsday

A Floral Park man was charged with criminal mischief for using makeup to scrawl a derogatory word on the window of a local shop owned by Muslims, officials said on Wednesday.

Andrew Niemir, 58, scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday after his arrest late Tuesday, also was charged with writing graffiti that defaced that window in Floral Park, said Stephen McAllister, Floral Park police commissioner.

The first charge, McAllister said, could be an element of a possible hate crime.

He credited Lt. William Doherty and Det. Rob King with finding the suspect who also had scrawled an obscenity in another spot. That second graffiti led a village employee to suspect Niemir, who confessed when the two officers questioned him, said McAllister, who also credited the Nassau District Attorney's Office.

Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said the young men who own the shop were "pretty disappointed; they were in shock; they are part of the community, residents … investing in the community and obviously they didn’t expect something like that to happen."

She and other community representatives attended a news conference in Floral Park on Tuesday to address the community’s concerns.

"They were trying to really advocate," Nasher said, by saying, "Look, this is our community, just like everyone else’s; we too should have the opportunity to thrive."

State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) in an email said: "This is a reminder to our entire community of just how important it is to report any and all hate crimes to law enforcement, and I urge anyone who is a victim of a crime to do so as soon as it happens."