Graffiti Messages Attack African-American Property in Clinton Hill
By Stephen Witt
A tree-lined Clinton Hill brownstone block where some of the borough’s most prominent
African-Americans live – including the publishers of Our Time Press and Brooklyn District
Attorney Kenneth Thompson – was vandalized with cryptic and threatening-like graffiti
messages early last Saturday morning.
Among the messages scrawled both on the sidewalk and on several African-American
homes and properties included, “Stop trying so hard”, “Your nonsense is everyone else’s”,
“animal” and “already dead”. Also scrawled on several steps of brownstones was a heart, which
some took for a target.
Thanks to a concerned resident on the block, police arrested Anne Lyons, 27, a white
woman that lives on nearby Clifton Place. The incidents occurred between 4 pm on May 29 and
6 am on May 30, according to the arrest complaint.
Lyons was charged with seven counts of both criminal mischief and making graffiti –
misdemeanors–along with possession of graffiti instruments.
Authorities and police sources said she had no prior arrests and downplayed the incident
as the isolated work of an emotionally disturbed person but still stationed a 24-hour manned
police scooter on the block that remains there at press time.
Meanwhile, homeowners and people working and living on the block expressed concerns
that Lyons may not have acted alone and the strong perception that the messaged graffiti was
targeted at them. Some speculated people wanting to buy properties on the block may have been
behind it while others surmised a strong intimidation tactic in the aimed at Our Time Press. “It’s
very, very unfortunate that a person is committing these acts of vandalism and it seems like she
had an agenda,” said one longtime resident on the block. “I wonder if she’s being paid and if she
is, who’s paying her? I hope this isn’t what’s behind it, but it makes you wonder.”
Michele Baldacci, co-owner of the popular Locanda Vini & Oli Italian Restaurant at 129
Gates Avenue, said he saw the “already dead” written on the side of his restaurant when he came
“I don’t think it was a message for me, but I think it was a message,” said Baldacci, who
rents the restaurant storefront from a Caribbean-American who owns the property.
Janice Hassan, a longtime homeowner on the block, said her son notified her that their
house was vandalized.
“I was a little bit taken aback and shocked, but I didn’t take it as a message,” she said.
A spokesperson for Thompson said a hate crime charge was not considered as the
evidence did not support such a charge.
The graffiti vandalism comes three months after Spike Lee’s family home was vandalized
with graffiti following the famed director’s much-publicized rant against gentrification.
No arrests have been made on that incident and police sources say the incidents are
Captain Eric Perez, executive officer of the 88th Police Precinct, said there have been
regular arrests of graffiti artists in recent months but it was mostly related to younger people
putting their tags on property and not many with message-type graffiti. Overall, felony crime is up a little more than 5 percent for the year, according to official
crime statistics, and both shooting incidents and shooting victims are up for the year.