Pressure is mounting for a Nassau legislator to step down after claims that she made racially offensive remarks.
On Monday, Nassau Democrats and civic leaders gathered at a rally on the steps of the legislative building in Mineola, calling for Leg. Ellen Birnbaum, D-Great Neck, to step down.
The controversy began to make news last week after Abrahams announced that Birnbaum allegedly made racially insensitive comments about African Americans and the Yes We Can Community Center in New Cassel.
Among those calling for her resignation are Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and former Nassau Leg. Robert Troiano.
On Monday, Troiano, who now serves as a North Hempstead official, read from a “collective recollection” of people who allegedly heard Birnbaum say “‘It's a bad neighborhood," and "It's a ghetto," "It's full of those black people," and “All they want to do is play basketball," Newsday reported.
Birnbaum offered a different account.
"Those are not my words," she told Newsday "I did not use 'ghetto.'” Her remarks, she said, referred to the center’s failure to meet revenue goals, and noted that "kids play basketball there."
Birnbaum has since apologized for her comments. Still, Democrat leaders have removed her from her committee assignments, according to CBS New York.“I believe my constituents have elected me to a two-year term, and I plan on staying,” she told CBS.