NYPD on alert after string of anti-Semitic hate crimes

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that that the NYPD will increase their presence in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg following a string of anti-Semitic attacks in recent days. CBS New York reports there were six incidents apparently motivated by hate in the city this week, the latest of which was reported Friday morning in Crown Heights.

The police department’s hate crimes task force is investigating the attacks, which came during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

On Twitter, de Blasio vowed that anyone who terrorizes the Jewish community will face justice. He said officers would also increase patrols at houses of worship.

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“Anti-Semitism is an attack on the values of our city — and we will confront it head-on,” de Blasio said.

In Friday’s attack, CBS New York reports a woman in Brooklyn slapped three Jewish women in the head and shouted anti-Semitic slurs at them. The suspect, identified by police as 30-year-old Tiffany Harris, is facing charges of hate crime harassment and assault.

Another attack Thursday in Brooklyn’s Gravesend neighborhood also led to an arrest, the station reports. Police charged a 42-year-old homeless woman with a hate crime after police say she yelled anti-Semitic slurs and hit a 34-year-old Jewish woman in the face with a grocery bag full of items. The victim, who reportedly suffered bruising and swelling, was with a 3-year-old child at the time of the attack.

On Tuesday, in an incident captured on surveillance video, CBS New York reports a 56-year-old Orthodox Jewish man was walking on a sidewalk in Crown Heights when he was attacked from behind by at least four people.

The same day, in the same neighborhood, police say a 25-year-old man was walking when a group started cursing and yelling slurs at him from across the street. When the man took out his cell phone to record the group, police say one of them threw an unknown liquid at him and fled, CBS New York reports.

The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is reportedly looking to question a man seen in surveillance video during that incident.

On Monday, a 65-year-old man wearing a yarmulke was reportedly targeted in a daytime attack in Midtown Manhattan. The victim told CBS New York he was looking down at his phone when someone yelled an anti-Semitic slur. Then, he said, he was sucker-punched. A 28-year-old man from Miami was reportedly charged with assault as a hate crime in the attack.

Police are also still looking for a group of teens in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood who witnesses say hit 6- and 7-year-old boys in the lobby of a residential building Monday before running off.

The Anti-Defamation League is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrests in any of the incidents.

“We are appalled at the sheer frequency and aggressive nature of these incidents,” said Evan Bernstein, regional director for ADL New York and New Jersey, said in a statement.

Bernstein said the attacks are “made particularly heinous by the fact they are occurring during a time when society is supposed to come together in peace for the holidays.” He also said the Jewish community is still reeling from the deadly shooting at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City December 10. Three people in the store were killed, and officials said the two attackers, who died in the shootout, were also responsible for killing a police detective a short time earlier.

Jersey City shooters had possible ties to hate group, investigators say

Federal hate crime data released last month by the FBI indicates that once again in 2018, the Jewish community was more likely to be the target of hate crimes than any other religious group. Of crimes motivated by religious bias, most of the incidents, 57.8%, were anti-Jewish, according to the FBI.

“Enough is enough; now is the time for society to come together in rejection of this hate and for public officials and community leaders to speak up, lead by example, and demand meaningful change to protect the Jewish community,” Bernstein’s statement said.

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