Library Election Turns Ugly

16
9655

‘Haters’ scream racist remarks at trustee candidate

When Mersedeh Rofeim saw Great Neck Library trustee candidate Mimi Hu at the street festival, she began yelling racist remarks at her and gave her the finger.

Mimi Hu is running for one of the four trustee seats in the Great Neck Library election that
will be held on Monday, Oct. 29. Her campaign
flyer begins, “I love books and I love our library.”

Hu’s credentials are impressive. The number one student in the top regional gifted high school in China, she was awarded a full scholarship to Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she was the number one student after just one year, earning a degree in both economics and physics. After working in finance, marrying her husband and having a son, she returned to school and is expecting to graduate from New York University Law School this spring. While living in Great Neck, she has served the Great Neck Public Schools and the Great Neck Chinese Association.

When negative comments were made about the LGBTQ community in a WeChat group discussion conducted in Chinese, Hu expressed her belief in equality and human rights for all members of society. Some members of the social media group found this distasteful and one of them, who had not been selected as a candidate by the Great Neck Library Nominating Committee and who did not get the petition signatures to become an independent candidate, launched a write-in campaign against Hu.

Instead of focusing on Hu’s love of books and the library, this write-in campaign has turned into a debate, fracturing the Chinese community in Great Neck.

While walking through the Street Festival and AutoFest in Great Neck Plaza with her 6-year-old son on Sunday, Oct. 21, Hu was verbally attacked in Starbucks and again even more aggressively on the street.

In Starbucks, a man walked up to Hu, identified himself as Bob Unger, and questioned Hu about a post he had received translated from Chinese on a social media site.

“I was in Starbucks, and I walked over to Mimi Hu and said, ‘Are you the person running for library trustee?’” said Unger, an attorney. “She said, ‘Yes, I hope you will vote for me.’ I asked her if it’s true that she thinks it’s normal for a man to marry a man. When she responded yes, I said, ‘You’re not normal.’”

Recounting the conversation by phone the following day, he explained, “Homosexuality has always been considered a mental disorder. You can stop, if you want to bad enough.”

When Mersedeh Rofeim is asked her name after ranting racist remarks to Great Neck Library trustee candidate Mimi Hu, this is her response.

A startled Hu and her young son headed outside only to be confronted by two women standing at the Great Neck Republican table. They stalked and verbally lashed out at Hu with vicious racial and transphobic slurs for several minutes, as many onlookers watched in disbelief. Mersedeh Rofeim shouted: “No transgenders to Great Neck. Take that sh*t to China.”

The Great Neck Chinese Association (GNCA), a group dedicated to holding onto Chinese culture while integrating into the Great Neck community, issued a statement of unity.

The letter, titled “GNCA Strongly Condemns Hate Speech Towards the Chinese and the LGBTQ Communities,” stated, “We, the board of Great Neck Chinese Association, most strenuously condemn this hate speech on the basis of sexual orientation and ethnicity. …Great Neck has always been a community that opens its arms to welcome people from all over the world. Many of our residents and their ancestors sought refuge here from wars, discrimination, persecution and inhuman living conditions from their native countries. Great Neck has long been a safe harbor for those who believe in hard work and seek a better life for their families.”

Robert M. Schaufeld, Esq., president of the Great Neck Library Board of Trustees, also condemned this behavior: “On behalf of myself, as president of the board and on behalf of the board, we denounce the reprehensible conduct that has occurred in connection with the upcoming library election. The library is the cultural center of the community and is open to all. We are aware of and condemn such behavior which abridges our civil liberties.”

The Northshore Asian Civic Association agreed: “We hope that this is an opportunity for all of us to rally together and start talking to each other. With civil dialogue, we can learn much from each other and be more tolerant and respectful. With your support, all of us can send a strong message that we will unite as a community to combat bigotry, intolerance and division.”

View another video from the street fair.

Learn more about the upcoming library election here.

16 COMMENTS

  1. This person is standing in front of the Republicans of Great Neck group in the video….Does that mean she was with them? And if so, what are they saying about this? Are they supporting this type of behavior with their silence??

  2. It appears that Bob Unger has first-hand knowledge on how to overcome homosexuality. A lifestyle that he has classified as a mental illness.

  3. Very good questions. Hopefully they show solidarity with mimi.

    It worries me that people are so consumed by their own beliefs here that they find screaming at a mother with her 6 year old child par for the course.

  4. I remember when Iranians were loathe by the Jews in Great Neck; it is not a secret the Iranians are Racist not only to gays, transgender, blacks and any race they see fit to nail against any wall. To put it gently, they smile and hold the sword under their visage. They still forget that in the 80’s they were and still are the MINORITY…..???

  5. It’s unfortunate when one nasty/vile person ends up as the poster-child for a community – especially when they don’t represent the majority of the community. Her words and actions are a stain on our community. And though she will have to answer for her words and actions, I would still like to share my heartfelt apology to Mimi, her family, and anyone else who had to witness this disgraceful display.

    As an Iranian immigrant who grew up in Great Neck, I want to say that she does not represent a majority of our community. I wish I could say all, but there is ignorance and bad in all communities. I can tell you, SilverSurfer666, that that those of us who immigrated to the US in the 80s and lived through the Iran-Contra affair and Iran Hostage Crisis did not have an easy time of it. I remember being on the receiving end of the abuse, while not fully understanding why. However, my parents raised me to be respectful and value all religions and cultures.

    So please, don’t take the actions of one person as an opportunity to pass judgement on a whole community. There are many among us who are outraged by her actions.

  6. Assuming they are religious, I’m going to assume there is going to be some reckoning in the after life. “God, yes I did attack a mother in front of her six year old child, flipped her off, told her to go back to China, etc., but I did it for you….”

  7. Usually the library vote is a sleeper. But after I read this, I decided to go to the office late on Monday, so that I get a chance to vote or Mimi Hu.

  8. What’s fascinating is that a great majority in Great Neck, perhaps including these two women, fled Middle Eastern countries where repression and discrimination are governmental policies, and came here to escape their own persecution and enjoy American freedoms. So sad they choose to exercise their “freedoms” by disparaging others. This was hateful speech combined with harassment (a criminal act) and maybe even defamation. I hope law enforcement is taking notice.

  9. What’s fascinating is that a great majority in Great Neck, perhaps including these two women, fled Middle Eastern countries where repression and discrimination are governmental policies, and came here to escape their own persecution and enjoy American freedoms. So sad they choose to exercise their “freedoms” by disparaging others. This was hateful speech combined with harassment (a criminal act) and maybe even defamation. I hope law enforcement is taking notice.

  10. I am a resident of Great Neck with a 2 year old son. If all the facts in this article are correct, I am disappointed by some members of this community. Hate and hate speech have no place in New York and the United States. Our children are watching; the world is watching. Set a better example.

  11. How disgusting and vile do you have to be to accost a mother in such a profane way in front of her six year old child just because you disagree with her beliefs?

    I wonder how they would like it if now the vast majority of Great Neckers (and frankly Americans) who disagree with their hateful views accost them in the same way when they are with their young family members?

    If we all did this, it would turn Great Neck into the messed up, repressive societies that many of us fled from. Whatever our views are, let’s all stand together against people like these.

Leave a Reply to Ronald Brinn Cancel reply