Brooklyn, NY – Police have made an arrest after disturbing messages of hate were found inside a Brooklyn synagogue Thursday evening, the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents across the nation.
James Polite, 26, is charged with four counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime and making graffiti.
Police said Saturday that Polite, had also recently set a string of fires — including in the closet of Yeshiva Beth Hillel of Williamsburg, and smaller blazes in the trash outside three other nearby Jewish institutions.
Graffiti inside the Union Temple on Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights read “Kill all Jews” and “Hitler,” along with some other horribly offensive language.
Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn confirmed Saturday that Polite was her intern.
“I know this young man, and along with many others in the New York City Council and social services agencies throughout the city, have done everything I could over the years to help him” as he cycled in and out of homelessness and the foster care and mental health systems, she said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I am simply and utterly devastated.”
Quinn called the defacement — which rattled worshipers just five days after 11 people were shot dead in an attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh — “a vile expression of bigotry and anti-Semitism” and “indefensible.”
A “Get out the Vote” event at Union Temple hosted by Broad City actress Ilana Glazer was canceled as a result of the hateful graffiti.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attended Shabbat services at the temple Friday night as a show of solidarity.
After the service, he told journalists the incident was a horrible act of hate and “deeply disturbing to all New Yorkers.”
“But it is particularly painful for members of the Jewish community who feel very vulnerable right now, who feel under attack,” de Blasio said.
Polite was taken after his arrest to a hospital for evaluation, Lt. Paul Ng said. The suspect has not appeared in court.
Surveillance Below shows the suspect setting blazes near a shul in Williamsburg.