New York – At a press conference this morning in front of One Police Plaza, the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus, chaired by Councilman Chaim Deutsch, denounced two recent anti-Semitic assaults in Brooklyn – one in Crown Heights and one in Boro Park, and outlined plans to prevent future bias incidents.
Deutsch was joined by Councilmembers Barry Grodenchik and Jumaane Williams, as well as representatives from the offices of Congressmember Yvette Clarke, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel.
Others in attendance included Imam Ahmed Ali Uzir of Iqra Masjid Brooklyn; Rabbi Eli Cohen of the JCC of Crown Heights; Rabbi Chaim David Zweibel of Agudath Israel of America; Alexander Rosemberg, deputy regional director at the ADL; Sam Tsang and Lina Chen, Asian community activists; Josh Mehlman of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition; David Pollack of the Jewish Community Relations Council – NY; Pervez Siddiqui, Director of the Apna Brooklyn Community Center; Avi Posnick, Managing Director for StandWithUs Northeast; members of Boro Park, Crown Heights, and Flatbush Shomrim, and community leaders from across New York City’s diverse cultures.
Deutsch led the press conference by first calling for the attacker in the Boro Park case to be charged with a hate crime, similar to the perpetrator in the Crown Heights incident. Deutsch stated, “It’s hard to believe that a violent and unprovoked attack in broad daylight against someone who appeared obviously Jewish could be motivated by anything other than baseless hatred. I have yet to see any evidence that demonstrates an alternate motive for the assault in Boro Park. In a situation like this when a community is on edge and fearful, it is important for officials in leadership roles to be as transparent as possible with residents. Even while an investigation is ongoing, communication between law enforcement, local leaders, and residents can go a long way towards making a community feel more secure.”
Deutsch also announced his plan to introduce two new bills into the New York City Council. The first bill would require the five New York City District Attorneys to report to the Council on the motives of hate crime perpetrators. Deutsch explained, “It’s important to distinguish between a youthful indiscretion and a violent act motivated by deep-set hatred. Access to information about the intent of these crimes would aid the City in better addressing the root of prejudice, instead of simply reacting to crimes after they occur.” Deutsch is also introducing a bill that would direct the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force to initiate an educational unit, particularly to educate young people across the City about the impact of hateful symbols and internalized bigotry.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, “I was dismayed and outraged to learn about attacks against two Orthodox Jewish men in Brooklyn in recent days. We cannot allow incidents like these to become the new normal. We cannot accept bias attacks. We cannot tolerate intolerance. We need to send the message to people who engage in this behavior, loud and clear: Your hatred will not stand. It will not be allowed to take root here in the most proudly diverse city in the world. And it will be prosecuted. This is why I’m calling on the Brooklyn DA to charge both crimes that happened in Brooklyn as hate crimes and the NYPD to increase police presence in parts of the city where we’ve seen hatred flare up.”
Public Advocate Letitia James said, ““These disgusting acts of violence and hate have absolutely no place in our City and no place in our country – not against our Jewish community or any other community. We will ensure that any person or group who partakes in such violence or hate is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law because that will never be tolerated here.”
State Senator Simcha Felder said, “This week alone we witnessed two vicious, unprovoked attacks perpetrated on innocent people in broad daylight. It’s terrifying and unimaginable that hate crimes are on the rise in 2018. I am urging DA Gonzalez to review this matter and prosecute these crimes as Hate Crimes, which is exactly what they are. To the NYPD, I want to say thank you for your good police work and for quickly apprehending these criminals, but that’s not enough. We need more cops patrolling our neighborhoods to deter criminals and keep people safe and we need to prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”
Councilmember Barry Grodenchik said, ““I stand with the Jewish Caucus and my colleagues in New York City government to denounce these acts of hate. They have no place in this city or country, and I call upon our law enforcement officials to hold accountable the individuals that perpetrated these heinous acts of bigotry and anti-Semitism.”
Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel said, “These acts of violence are intolerable and will not be accepted. I strongly condemn any acts of violence, but especially those driven by senseless thinking and/or motivated by virtue of racial and religious bias. Now is the time to see the beauty in diversity. This is the perfect opportunity to bring together all faith leaders, of all races, on behalf of the community and on behalf of the victims affected by racial and religious bias. I stand with you and will continue to fight to protect our New Yorkers.”
Rabbi David Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America said, “Here in New York City, so many of our followers and constituents came from the ashes of holocaust and rebuilt a vibrant Jewish community, in a large part due to the tolerance and diversity of our great city. Therefore these very troubling incidents directed at orthodox Jews, whose distinctive dress makes them identifiably Jewish, along with an ongoing rise in other anti-Semitic occurrences should concern us all both in the Jewish community and to New Yorkers of all faiths and beliefs. We must be a society that thrives on our diversity.”
Evan Bernstein, Regional Director, ADL New York / New Jersey said: “We don’t want to see any kind of trend of anti-Semitic assaults or hate in New York City or beyond,” said Evan Bernstein with the Anti-Defamation League. “And the fact that this is looking like it’s almost becoming normalized is incredibly disturbing to us. So far in 2018, ADL has tracked 12 anti-Semitic assaults in New York State, 9 of which occurred in Brooklyn. Statewide, ADL tracked a 90% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, compared to 2016.” Bernstein thanks the leadership of our communities including the elected officials from the NYC City Council, CM Deutsch and so many others for coming together to denounce this hate and urged all of New York’s communities to be extremely vigilant and to report any act of bias or hate.”
Imam Ahmed Ali Uzir of Iqra Masjid Brooklyn said, “No religion teaches hate – we must love each other for the sake of God. We must stand united against bigotry and racism, to offer a brighter future to our younger generations. Thanks to Councilman Chaim Deutsch for your efforts to unite us. God Bless America and the entire world.”