Spray paint portraying a Russian propaganda symbol was swiftly removed from the Shore Road Promenade in Bay Ridge after it was posted about on social media Wednesday morning.
The “Z” graffitied on the bike path pavement is a symbol used by the Russian military in their invasion of Ukraine to demarcate their vehicles from those of enemies, and is now used in mainstream as a pro-war icon.
A photo of the symbol painted next to an image of the Russian flag was posted in a Bay Ridge Facebook group on April 13, and the photographer described it as a “neo-Nazi” image that didn’t belong in their southern Brooklyn community.
“Today while biking Shore Road Park I saw something I was hoping I would not see in NY – the Russian neo-Nazi Z net to the Russian flag was painted right on the footpath, maybe 20 feet away from the Verrazzano Bridge,” the post in Bay Ridge Parents read. “Whoever painted that, there is no place for you and your hate in Bay Ridge and NY in general.”
The poster alerted City Councilmember Justin Brannan’s office, who reached out to the city Parks Department to remove the graffiti. (Parks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Speaking to Brooklyn Paper, the pol said the city’s Ukrainian population should be protected and supported in this time of need.
“I don’t do foreign policy, I get potholes filled,” Brannan said. “But here’s what I know: southern Brooklyn is home to one of the largest Ukrainian populations in the United States and we stand with Ukrainian people everywhere against the genocidal invasion of their homeland.”
Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February this year, eight years after the former Soviet country annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine, in an attempt to block the country from entering NATO — the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — and halt its reach into the Eastern Bloc, which Russian President Vladimir Putin sees as a threat to his country.
The conflict has hit home for much of southern Brooklyn, such as Brighton Beach, which is home to one of the largest Ukrainian populations outside of Eastern Europe. The nabe has even earned the nickname “Little Odessa,” owing to its population and its perch near the beach, just as the moniker’s Ukrainian namesake.
While many pro-Ukrainian symbols have popped up around Brooklyn in support of the Ukrainian defense against Russian invasion, a source told Brooklyn Paper Thursday that this is the first time a pro-Russian symbol has been spotted on the borough’s southern end.
The Police Department did not immediately say whether or not the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.