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Brooklyn Assemblyman Downplays Dressing In Blackface

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Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind held a press conference outside his home Monday to explain why he dressed in blackface at a holiday party, but politicians are continuing to condemn his actions. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez has the story.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind held a press conference in front of his Midwood home Monday to try and explain his costume choice for the Jewish holiday of Purim.

The longtime lawmaker wore black face paint, an afro-like wig and a long orange shirt.

He said he was dressed as a basketball player.

"The whole idea of what I was wearing was not to be recognizable," Hikind said.

Hikind was on display like this in his home full of guests and then on Facebook, after his son posted the picture.

On Purim it is customary to dress up, and Hikind said it never crossed his mind anything was wrong with his costume.

And he didn't outright apologize for it.

"I'm sorry that individuals that people out there were offended. It was not meant in that frame, in that way," Hikind said. "If I had to do it over again, then I would just say let me find something else that's very, very exciting. Then again I might have offended somebody else. But it was Purim."

State and city lawmakers are blasting Hikind's costume and comments.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called Hikind's actions "inappropriate and offensive." Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson said Hikind has fought against racism in the past, but this incident calls for an apology.

The City Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus said Hikind has no consideration for the trivialization of the black experience in this country.

"I hope he understands what he did, there's a background, there’s a history of blackface that is not a good one," City Councilman Jumaane Williams said. "He needs to give the same respect to all communities."

Hikind said because of everyone's reaction, he'll have to rethink his costume for next year.

"I was actually going to do Indians next year," he said. "But I don't want to offend Indians."

Many in the caucus say a real public apology is needed.

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