Catalyst July/August Issue 1999
Vincent and Letizia Coppola recently spent a small fortune renovating their home in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Manhattan Beach. Italian immigrants, they had a big round sculpture of Madonna and Child engraved on their second floor balcony that extends in front of their house. The stone carving drove immediately led to threatening letters from neighbors in this largely Jewish community.
The first letter was bad enough: “You have some nerve putting such an offensive symbol in your home. This is not Bensonhurst or Bay Ridge [largely Catholic neighborhoods in Brooklyn], where all of your mob friends live.” The second letter was worse: the Coppola’s were told to sell their home “to a fine, honorable Russian Jew and move back to Bensonhurst.” They were then warned that “action will be taken” if Jesus and Mary are not removed.
Bias investigators from the Police Department went to work and so did the Catholic League. The Coppola’s want to stay put, but they also don’t want to be harassed. We have extended our help and will do what we can to assist them.