NYPD officials said on Wednesday there has been an uptick in hate crimes this year, especially anti-Semitic hate crimes in the last few months.
There have been 309 hate crimes this year as of Sunday, according to NYPD statistics, a 4 percent increase from the same time period last year when there were 297. Of those, 159 this year (or more than half) have been anti-Semitic in nature, police said.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the department has one of the best hate crimes task forces in the country, but that the entire city has to work to curb hate crimes.
“The increased reports of swastikas and other criminal mischief here in the five boroughs is absolutely concerning and none of it — none of it — will ever be tolerated in New York City,” he said, adding: “You can’t get into people’s minds or hearts, but we can certainly do our best to try to stop them and we do that by actively investigating with our hate crimes task force and by working in conjunction with everybody in the community. I think everybody in the city has got a responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
Recently, there have been several anti-Semitic incidents, including swastikas found on homes in Brooklyn Heights, and a Brooklyn synagogue vandalized with anti-Semitic slurs. This comes after 11 people were killed and several others injured in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Police on Wednesday were also looking for a group of young boys, about 12 to 15 years old, after they threw a metal pipe through a window of a synagogue on Franklin Avenue on Saturday, knocked the hat off a 14-year-old boy and pushed a 10-year-old girl to the ground. These incidents were being investigated as potential hate crimes, said Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said it’s important to show an aggressive and consistent response to hate crimes.
“It’s a message to this entire country and to authorities all around the world, that if you do not act aggressively in response to a hate crime, you are inadvertently or purposefully giving it license,” he said. “And that’s something we do not accept here in New York City.”