Brooklyn’s Jewish community is reeling from anti-Semitic incidents last weekend as the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force works to find the perpetrators.
“Hatred won’t be tolerated in our city,” said Mayor Eric Adams in a tweet. “Anti-Semitic acts of violence are an attack on every New Yorker and they will be met with the force of the entire city.”
On the evening of Friday, Feb. 4, hours after Sabbath began, two separate attacks were reported in Williamsburg just minutes and blocks apart.
At 10:15 pm, a 44-year-old man was hit on the right side of his head by an unknown suspect as he walked at Marcy and Myrtle avenues. Ten minutes later, a man ran up behind two men dressed in traditional Hasidic clothing and punched one, a 24-year-old man, on the side of the head. Video posted by the NYPD shows the perpetrator turn and run in the opposite direction after striking the victim.
The following day, someone spray-painted swastikas and other graffiti on the sides of Yeshiva school buses parked at Division Avenue and Rodney Street and on the door of a nearby residential building.
“We are horrified that yeshiva school buses clearly marked in Yiddish could be vandalized in such a way with hateful symbols, especially on the same day that we found two Jewish men to have been assaulted in the area,” tweeted the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jesey. “ [New York] must be a safe heaven for all and this hate must stop!”
The ADL is offering a $7,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of Friday night’s attacks.
“Attacks against visibly identifiable Jews here in New York and New Jersey have become practically a weekly occurrence,” said regional director Scott Richman in a statement. “The Jewish community is on extreme edge and this violence has got to stop. It is becoming normalized, and we simply cannot accept that as the state of affairs. We hope to be able to gather information about these incidents and garner widespread community support to put an end to these attacks.”
On Tuesday, the NYPD posted a photo of a man who may have been connected with the Friday attacks and footage of a group of people they believe spray-painted the buses and building. The footage shows one member of the group stopping to crouch beside a building with what appears to be a can of spray paint.
The United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn met with NYPD representatives, the Williamsburg Shomrin, the local Jewish security organization, and Councilmember Lincoln Restler to discuss the attacks and enhanced security measures in the community on Sunday.
“We are grateful for the strong response, and look forward for continued beefed up presence to end the scourge of hate,” UJO said online following the meeting.
“I am angry & heartbroken by two more anti-Semitic, violent incidents in our community over Shabbos,” Restler Tweeted. “The extraordinary rise in anti-Semitic attacks must stop NOW. We’re working on strategies to expand cultural understanding & deepen tolerance in our district. We all deserve to be safe in our community and our office will do everything we possibly can to stem this crisis.”
Anti-Semitic crimes have spiked in New York City in recent years, with more than 100 reported by the NYPD every year since 2018. That number spiked in 2019, when the department confirmed 242 anti-Jewish crimes in the five boroughs. The NYPD reports 26 hate crimes overall so far in 2022, compared with 21 by the same date last year.
Councilmember Julie Menin, who represents parts of Upper Manhattan and sits on the Council’s Jewish Caucus alongside Restler and Brooklyn representatives Inna Vernikov and Ari Kagan, held an anti-Semitism town hall meeting on Wednesday night in partnership with the ADL, the Simon Rosenthal Center, and the city’s Commission on Human rights. There, speakers discussed the importance of reporting those crimes, and what can be done to prevent them.
The NYPD is asking for anyone with knowledge of the incident to submit an anonymous tip to CrimeStoppers by calling 1-800-577-8477 or 1-888-57-74782 for Spanish speakers. Tips can also be submitted online or on Twitter @NYPDTips.