Teacher Cleared In Racist Graffiti Case
A special education teacher was acquitted last week of scrawling racist graffiti on a bathroom stall at a public school in Belle Harbor.
A jury last Friday found Yolanda Moorjaney, 33, of 247 Street in Bellerose, Queens, not guilty of criminal mischief as a hate crime – the charge stemming from a 2004 investigation into a series of racist and vulgar graffiti incidents at P.S. 256 on Beach 135 Street.
Cops from the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force arrested Moorjaney on the morning of March 12, 2004, after she used a third floor restroom at the school. Law enforcement officials said the restroom was checked and found to be graffiti-free before Moorjaney used it and that they found two scrawlings that included the N-word – one that said “n——r die!” – after she used one of the stalls. Police immediately searched Moorjaney and found that she was carrying a black felt marker.
Police had responded to the school at least six times over a three-month span leading up to the arrest.
Moorjaney, who had taught at the school for six years, was reassigned to the Department of Education’s regional office pending the outcome of the case. Her arrest sparked an interesting, ongoing debate on Gothamist, a blog focused on New York City, after an item was posted in October. Several comments were posted by people, some of whom said they know and/or have worked with Moorjaney for years. The comments, from people with names such as “Teach2006” and “1 parent” speculated on her guilt or innocence as well as her ethnicity. The day after the acquittal, a comment was posted by a poster named mikaid who said Moorjaney “was finally and correctly found innocent of this ridiculous charge against her.”
Moorjaney’s case went to trial earlier this year, but the judge declared a mistrial when her attorney fell ill and could not provide an adequate defense, according to the Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s Office.