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Update: ‘Top Chef’ Tom Colicchio responds to political graffiti at his Mattituck home

08/21/2018 1:49 PM |

UPDATE (8 p.m.): The Mattituck home where political graffiti was discovered Tuesday morning belongs to celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.

Mr. Colicchio, of “Top Chef” fame, later tweeted to his 926,000 followers that the act “was in response” to him displaying a Perry Gershon yard sign. Mr. Gershon is a Democrat who is running against Republican Lee Zeldin in the 1st Congressional District.

Neighbors saw the name “Trump” sprayed on the roadway and mailbox of the home during a morning walk. The sign appeared damaged and a tire track in the mud nearby suggested a car may have run into it. On the roadway, “Cuomo = Death to America,” and on the homeowner’s lawn, “Go home” with another indistinguishable message.

Mr. Colicchio’s tweet continued, “What say you, @leezeldin?”

The graffiti also appeared to take aim at  Mr. Colicchio’s wife, Lori Silverbush, who also tweeted about the incident this morning, writing ” Cute touch: my name & a defaced Jewish star.”

Mr. Zeldin posted a response on Facebook, saying “This coward needs to be identified and prosecuted.”

Mr. Colicchio has been politically active in recent years, mostly in relation to food policy issues. He once stated in a Tweet to The Suffolk Times that he votes in the 1st District.

Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said Tuesday night that the Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit responded to assist Southold in the investigation and the case is not being classified as a hate crime.

Original story: Morning walks are a routine for Linda Burke, but she was shocked Tuesday morning to come across graffiti on usually pristine Mill Lane in Mattituck.

As she slowed down near a home at the Wickham Avenue intersection, Ms. Burke began to make out the letters: “Trump” emblazoned on the roadway and mailbox of a home sporting a sign for Perry Gershon, a Democrat who is running against Republican Lee Zeldin in the First Congressional District.

The sign appeared damaged and a tire track in the mud nearby suggested a car may have run into it.

More sinister messages appeared on the roadway, “Cuomo = Death to America,” and on the homeowner’s lawn, “Go home” with another indistinguishable message. “I couldn’t make out what some of it said, but you get the gist,” Ms. Burke said later Tuesday morning. “I came upon it and thought, ‘Whoa.’ ”

According to Ms. Burke, who lives nearby, a crew from the Southold Town Highway Department arrived to begin cleaning up the graffiti as she snapped a few pictures with her cellphone.

She thought to document the incident because it’s not something often seen in Mattituck.

“It’s shocking and disappointing. I went for a walk to relax and clear my head. I really think it’s sad that people have to resort to that kind of communication,” she said.

Photos Ms. Burke took along Mill Lane Tuesday morning. (Credit: Linda Burke)

Kristin Avondet of nearby Grand Avenue drove by on her way to work as a crew was cleaning up the graffiti. “It’s extremely sad and a little scary that people are being targeted for political affiliations,” she said. “It has me thinking twice about putting up any signs at my own house.”

Though she doesn’t know the homeowners personally, Ms. Avondet can relate to them. Her car has been vandalized twice, which she says she believes is because of a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker.

Ms. Avondet, who grew up in the area, said she doesn’t recognize this spike of hatred. “People always had differing views and opinions, but we managed to live in harmony despite that,” she said. “This isn’t the [Mattituck] I grew up in.”

The Southold Town police and highway departments did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

This incident comes on the heels of an act of vandalism at the Greek Orthodox Church in Greenport and is concerning to Sonia Spar, who co-chairs the Southold Anti-Bias Task Force.

“It is very troubling,” Ms. Spar said of the incidents. “The hateful messages that these actions send to our community cannot be met with silence. Our community must come together to strongly denounce these attacks.”

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