ASTORIA — A vandal scrawled an anti-gay slur with a reference to President Barack Obama on a building housing the offices of two local lawmakers twice this month, officials said.
In the most recent incident, a man used a marker to write the words "Obama f----t" shortly before 2 a.m. on March 20 on a wall at Pistilli Towers at 31-19 Newtown Ave., which houses the offices of Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas.
The building — which sits directly next door to another property housing multiple offices, including that of Councilman Costa Constantinides — was also hit with the same graffiti a week earlier in red lettering, according to a spokeswoman for Gianaris. It was removed a few days later.
The writing is similar to graffiti spotted by a DNAinfo New York reporter in November on a sign outside an apartment building on Astoria Boulevard near Crescent Street that included the same words. It was removed shortly after.
Graffiti spotted by on a sign outside an apartment building on Astoria Boulevard near Crescent Street in November. (DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly)
Police released video of the suspect on Friday, which shows the man walking down the sidewalk wearing a baseball cap and a jacket with its hood pulled up. An NYPD spokesman said the department's Hate Crimes Task Force has been notified of the incident.
Astoria's three elected officials condemned the vandalism in a joint press release.
"It is shameful that someone is trying to divide our diverse neighborhood through hostility and bigotry," Gianaris said in a statement, adding that the vandalism "will not silence our opposition towards policies we consider un-American."
"Writing hateful graffiti is a cowardly, criminal act that pollutes our neighborhood and makes people feel less safe," Simotas added.
Hate crimes across the city increased 55 percent through the first two months of 2017 compared to the same time period last year, NYPD officials said earlier this month.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.