Russell Simmons is a real Renaissance man: he was the co-founder of the Def Jam label, he's tried to clean up rap lyrics, and he's mentored Ashley Dupre. And now he's literallyunveiled a message of peaceful coexistence to opponents of the planned mosque and community center, by hanging a giant "coexist" banner in the windows of his apartment.
Simmons apartment on Liberty St. overlooks Ground Zero. Each letter of the banner features different religious and spiritual symbols. Like Bloomberg, Simmons is a big supporter of the planned center: "I was trying to figure out ways I could reach people and promote a message of tolerance...The fact that it is a public discussion, that there's so many against it is what I think is disappointing to me, that so many people don't know that we founded our country on the First Amendment," he told the AP.
Not everyone is as taken by the statement however: "It looks more like astrology signs," Ayo Aduroja, 45, of Staten Island, told the Daily News. But some people are always going to be hard to satisfy: construction worker Andy Sullivan said he could accept a mosque built five miles away from Ground Zero...but not if it involved Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. "With this particular guy, I'm starting to get a very bad feeling. I'm a street guy from Brooklyn, so I go with my gut."