In response to two recent anti-Semitic assaults in Crown Heights and Borough Park, Brooklyn Councilmember Chaim Deutsch and the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus held a press conference to call for the attackers to be charged with hate crimes and to outline plans to prevent future bias incidents.
On Sunday, an Orthodox man was dragged and beaten at the intersection of 13th Avenue and 46th Street in Borough Park. Just one day later, another Jewish man was attacked with a tree branch on the corner of Albany Avenue and Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights.
“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,” said Deutsch. “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 was joined by Councilmember Jumaane Williams, representatives from the offices of Congressmember Yvette Clarke, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel, and various community and faith-based organizations including Ahmed Ali Uzir of Iqra Masjid Brooklyn, Rabbi Eli Cohen of the Jewish Community Council of Crown Heights, and Asian community activists Sam Tsang and Lina Chen.
According to Evan Bernstein, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New York / New Jersey, there have been 12 anti-Semitic assaults in 2018 in New York State, nine of which occurred in Brooklyn. Statewide, ADL tracked a 90 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, compared to 2016.
“And the fact that this is looking like it’s almost becoming normalized is incredibly disturbing to us,” said Bernstein.
Deutsch announced plans to introduce a legalization package in the City Council to address hate crimes holistically. The first bill would require the five NYC District Attorneys to report to the council on the motives of hate crime perpetrators.
“It’s important to distinguish between a youthful indiscretion and a violent act motivated by deep-set hatred,” explained. Deutsch. “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.”
A second bill would direct the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force to initiate an educational unit to educate young people about the impact of hateful symbols and internalized bigotry.
“These acts of violence are intolerable and will not be accepted,” said Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel. “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.”