Town Seeking 'Termination' Of Employee Who Posted Hate Speech On Video Of Muslim Teen
A Town of Babylon employee faces disciplinary action after he posted profane hate speech on a Facebook post highlighting the accomplishments of the Lindenhurst High School Class of 2017 salutatorian.
The Lindenhurst School District posted a video (watch it at the bottom of this story) on Facebook Thursday morning featuring salutatorian Yasmin Zohny along with co-valedictorians Sofiya Yanyak and Ziad Sabry. The video was shared to a local Facebook group in the afternoon. A few minutes later, Andrew Vita posted two comments under the video. Both directed vile hate speech toward Zohny, who is Muslim.
"This type of hateful language has no place in our society, let alone in our Town of Babylon workforce," Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said of Vita, who has been employed with the town's Department of Public Works since 1985. "Mr. Vita will be subject to disciplinary action, particularly if records show these offensive statements were posted during work hours."
Vita's comments were quickly deleted by the admin of the Facebook group, but screenshots of his comments have spread across town and unleashed a torrent of support for Zohny, particularly from fellow members of the Lindenhurst Class of 2017, which will graduate on Friday evening.
"I am completely and utterly disgusted that Andy Vita has commented such disgusting things on a post celebrating our salutatorian Yasmin Zohny," Paige McDonald told Patch in an email. "She is indeed Muslim and wears a hijab. I can promise you she is the SWEETEST person you'll ever meet and today on Facebook she was attacked for being Muslim."
Another member of the Class of 2017, Shannon McCann, called Zohny "kind, generous, caring and compassionate." McCann said Vita should be fired immediately.
"We need to step up and denounce these unspeakably hurtful people from our workforce in order to maintain a peaceful and safe environment for all," McCann said. "Yasmin has worked diligently and consistently her entire schooling career, inside the classroom and out, and she deserves to see this action be condemned."
Schaffer said Vita, who made $78,577 in 2016, will be "mandated to apologize in-person to this impressive young woman and go through sensitivity training so that we can determine the cause of the hate-driven anger he displayed in his posting."
Schaffer also said he will personally be offering Zohny, who will attend The University of Texas at Austin in the fall, a paid internship with the Town of Babylon if she does not already have plans for the summer.
Sahil Kapoor, another Lindenhurst High student and a friend of Zohny's, told Patch that he's faced "many racial comments" himself as an Indian-American in a family of Indian immigrants.
"It is one of the worst things a human can face," he said.