Elmont Memorial Library officials have reinstated library privileges for two of its patrons who were involved in a physical altercation on March 11 during a meeting that was being held there. Joseph Smith, 60, and Carl Achille, 29, had been involved in an altercation at an Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development meeting that prompted library officials to suspend each of them for conduct that violated the library’s rules. Achille’s suspension went into effect on April 18. He appealed to the board. Smith’s suspension went into effect four days after the incident. Police arrested Smith in late March in connection with the incident.
Achille claimed that at that March 11 meeting, Smith, who is ECSD chairwoman Sandra Smith’s husband, attacked him because Achille insisted on having a discussion about developing the area around Belmont Park for housing instead of a stadium. Achille, an Elmont barbershop owner, said that Joseph Smith lunged at him, choked him, pushed him onto a table and used anti-gay and racial epithets against him. Both Smith and Achille are black.
Sandra Smith had said in March that there was indeed a confrontation but it had started after her husband told Claudine Hall, a civic leader at the meeting, that Achille had made a derogatory comment about her. Achille and Hall began to argue and two library employees had asked them to leave, according to Sandra Smith. When they did not, Joseph Smith and Achille began to confront one another.
Achille has been vocal about wanting Sandra Smith to step down from her post and Smith said she suspects that this is the reason Achille has, in her opinion, exaggerated what happened.
Achille told the Herald that he was very pleased with the library’s decision and said he had been wrongly punished.
“Victims of crimes should never be punished for being a victim,” Achille said. “I'm pleased that the community and board has taken a strong stance against injustice and unfairness by reversing that baseless decision."
Smith declined to comment on the reinstatement but told the Herald that her husband’s court date is July 22.