When students trek through the gates of Queens College, they are promised principles of inclusivity and diversity, but as of late, a nail-biting safety concern has reared its ugly head right on the front door of QC. Beginning in August, an individual with a megaphone — right at the university’s main gate — has challenged QC’s very own philosophies by spewing racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and anti-Islamic statements as students and faculty alike enter campus.
It all started at the beginning of the semester where this man, who claims to be a former 4.0 GPA Honors student that was blacklisted from the college, first appeared. Since then, on a reoccurring basis, he has verbally assaulted members of the Queens College community with racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and Islamophobic statements amplified through a megaphone as they walk through the Kissena Gate.
Recapping What He’s Said
This man has been firing off hate speech and conspiracy theories for months now, particularly against the Jewish population. In a video from Aug. 31st, the man can be seen stating:
“These people will literally rape your mother in front of your face, and if you say anything they’ll call you a fascist and an anti-Semite… they have their own banks, their own grocery stores, and they were siphoning the wealth of Germany… this campus is named after a f****** Jew and all these r****** colored folks just walk in here, and don’t give a f***.”
In the video below, a man was shouting back at the perpetrator, and it can be inferred the person standing up to the hateful man was a member of the Queens College community, as the perpetrator turns towards the inside of the gate and motions someone to come forward. He then says:
“Why don’t you have an intelligent conversation with me you c******, you pasty f****** c******? Come have a f****** intelligent conversation with me instead of just calling me a f****** Nazi. You’re a piece of s*** dude.”
He has also been seen setting up a large cardboard info-board with multiple conspiracy theories pasted on them, explaining his beliefs to anybody that would listen.
“Religions are just technologies, there’s no divinity behind it. If I ask you what is divinity, it’s kind of just a subject thing.”
The Response from Queens College & Others
With such hateful speech being forcefully pushed onto the Queens College community at an alarmingly common rate, people are bound to notice. President Frank H. Wu released a statement on Dec. 6th when the perpetrator once again was seen at the Kissena Gate:
I am writing to advise that an individual who is not a member of the Queens College community was amplifying hateful rhetoric utilizing a megaphone off campus, in the area of the Main Gate, yesterday and today. Our Public Safety office immediately contacted the NYPD who responded quickly. The individual, who is the same person reported to the NYPD earlier this semester, left the area both times as the NYPD approached. We are consulting with law enforcement to ensure the safety of our community. Please contact the Office of Public Safety at their 24-hour number, 718-997-5911, if you notice anything to be reported. Queens College strongly condemns bigotry and discrimination of any kind, including hate speech. Thank you for your cooperation and support.
On Sep. 1st, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards tweeted a response to the viral Tweet depicting the first recorded incident of the man on campus a day prior:
“Students, faculty and the Queens College community shouldn’t be subjected to these anti-Semitic and racist rants. Glad to hear law enforcement addressed the issue by fining the individual and confiscating his megaphone. This behavior is vile and it won’t be tolerated in Queens.”
On behalf of QC Hillel, the university’s largest Jewish student organization, Executive Director Jenna Citron Schwab sent a statement to The Knight News. While the perpetrator has targeted many different groups, he most often attacks the Jewish. Schwab believes that Queens College is still a welcoming campus for Jewish students and believes one way of countering anti-Semitism is fostering ‘a strong and vibrant Jewish student life on campus.
Subsequently, she also urges the administration to, “…recognize and forcefully confront the threat of anti-Semitism and to take seriously their moral, legal, and ethical responsibility to ensure our campus remains a place where Jewish students feel welcome to live and learn safely.”
Executive Director of QC Hillel Jenna Citron Schwab’s statement:
At this time of rising antisemitism in our country, QC Hillel is actively working to improve the environment for Jewish students. Incidents like this make Jewish students feel isolated and unsafe and are, unfortunately, part of a national and global trend of rising antisemitism and bias. (According to the ADL, antisemitic incidents reached their highest levels on record in 2021).
QC Hillel is leading the coalition to counter antisemitism from every angle. One of the most powerful ways to do this is by building and nurturing strong and vibrant Jewish student life at QC. Hillel’s doors are open every day so Jewish students have a safe place to connect and express pride in their identities. I continue to firmly believe that Queens College is a safe and welcoming campus for Jewish students. We surely have work to do, but the shows of support from across our campus and community leave me feeling hopeful.
We are also encouraging the College administration to recognize and forcefully confront the threat of antisemitism and to take seriously their moral, legal and ethical responsibility to ensure our campus remains a place where Jewish students feel welcome to live and learn safely. We look forward to working with them to identify and take specific and practical steps to improve the climate for every student on campus.
So Why is Nothing Being Done?
Although there allegedly have been several New York City Police Department appearances, this individual continues to show up. According to the Queens Daily Eagle, he has continually accumulated summonses for noise and parking violations. He also has been ‘barred’ from entering campus by Queens College officials. He has shown up both on foot and in a white Volkswagen.
This has led to fear within the community. Multiple students have told The Knight News that they don’t believe QC is upholding their ‘condemnation of bigotry and discrimination’ on campus.
Sophomore peer mentor Sadia Joya is one of those students. During the early afternoon on Dec. 6th, Joya was alerted of the perpetrator returning to campus via a WhatsApp group. In that group chat, an unverified rumor spread that the perpetrator claimed to have a weapon, after which she reported this incident to the Office of Public Safety. When in contact with them she was told that they were aware of the individual but ‘didn’t hear them claiming they had a gun.’ This left Joya questioning QC’s safety and sense of urgency on the matter stating, “In that case, why didn’t we have a message from the President by that time?” President Wu later released a statement at 6:55 P.M. about the incident (the same one quoted above).
While the perpetrator is protected by First Amendment rights, a burning question remains: Can nothing be done? Will we have to listen to this hateful speech right at what is supposed to be a sanctuary of tranquility and education until he eventually runs out of money for fines?
A source close to the Office of Public Safety told The Knight News that ‘the Administration’ told the officers stationed on campus to ‘not touch him’ due to hairy legal boundaries. The source stated that the sidewalk where the Kissena Gate resides is under CUNY jurisdiction while the sidewalk across the street is NYPD jurisdiction. While the perpetrator does flee the scene when he hears NYPD sirens, he simply ignores CUNY’s Public Safety officers.
While the perpetrator has done no physical harm to anybody, as he would’ve been apprehended on sight due to the large presence of CUNY security, the damage done to the Queens College community is all mental. Until a solution is brewed, he will continue to harass students and faculty entering the Kissena Gate whenever he pleases.
Thank you for reporting on this. To find a better solution, might QC be able to draw on precedents or similar cases from other campuses? Maybe The Knight News can investigate this in their next issue.