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Dov Hikind Apologizes For Real as Mayor Says Blackface Costume 'Disgusting'

By Jill Colvin | February 26, 2013 12:10pm

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg waded into the Dov Hikind blackface controversy Tuesday, joining fellow electeds to slam the Brooklyn Assemblyman for donning an afro and blackface as a Purim costume.

"He thought it was disgusting and that there is absolutely no place or justification for it," said a spokesman for the mayor, after Bloomberg indicated that he agreed with a group of Brooklyn pols who were protesting the costume on City Hall steps.

The comment came after Hikind offered a "heartfelt and sincere apology" Tuesday for donning an afro and blackface as part of his black basketball player Purim getup, after Brooklyn officials dismissed his earlier attempts as insincere.

"Some people have marveled at what they’ve characterized as my insensitivity in wearing the costume I wore on Purim," he wrote in a post on his blog.

"My initial reaction in learning of this was one of shock because my intention was never to hurt or make fun of anyone.... Unintentional as they were, I recognize now that the connotations of my Purim costume were deeply offensive to many.

"I am sincerely sorry that I have hurt anyone. I apologize for the pain that I have caused anyone by this incident, and by any remarks that I have made in connection with it. It genuinely pains me that I have pained any human being," he wrote.

"That’s not who I am, not who I want to be. I sincerely hope that this note will soothe any hurt feelings."

The words were a far cry from an earlier statement he posted in the same place on Monday, where he dismissed the outrage at his costume as "absurd" in a post titled: "It's Purim. People Dress Up."

He was nearly as dismissive at a press conference outside of his Brooklyn house, where he apologized for offending people — but not for the costume.

"I’m not here to bow down and say, 'Oh my God I have sinned, please forgive me,'" he told reporters.

That response drew fury from many city and state officials, including members of the state's Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus and the city's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, which called Hikind's response "disconcerting."

"Not only have you appeared publicly in blackface, you have offered an initially fierce defense of your actions, declaring on your blog that 'this is political correctness to the absurd,'" they wrote in a letter to Hikind made public Monday night.

"This is a disconcerting response, especially when we consider that on multiple occasions you have come out to loudly defend the Jewish community against real and perceived indignities," they wrote.

The photo of Hikind's costume, which was posted by his son on Facebook, was first reported by the Observer's Politicker blog.

His son defended his father in a follow-up post, saying he was saddened by the response.

"My dad doesnt have a prejudice bone in his body," he wrote.

"Was it a wise move to dress in a way that could be taken offensively? Prob not. But the fact is, that there wasn’t the slightest idea that someone would be offended by his costume."