Police arrest teen for Borough Park ‘harassment as hate crime’

Police made an arrest in hate crime incident in Borough Park on Friday. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Police officials say other suspects may be arrested shortly.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested on charges of “aggravated harassment as a hate crime” after police say he and others attacked two Orthodox Jewish teens in Borough Park on Nov. 2.

The arrest comes after Chief of Detectives (and in-coming NYPD Commissioner) Dermot Shea, revealed on Nov. 6 that there were four incidents over weekend where teenagers attacked and harassed Orthodox Jews in the Borough Park community. In one case, the teens used anti-Semitic language to harass the victims, Shea said.

Four incidents, three in which people came forward, a fourth that was brought to our attention — all four occurred roughly within 35 minutes of each other,” Shea said, outlining the incidents that got the attention of local leaders.

The 16-year-old who was arrested by the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit on Friday morning was being charged with one count of aggravated harassment as a hate crime (in the second degree) for the attack on Nov. 2, which happened at 12:25 a.m., at the corner of corner 53rd  Street and New Utrecht Avenue, police said. During that incident, two 15-year-olds were returning from Sabbath prayer when they were attacked.

The name of the suspect is being withheld because he is a minor, officials said. Police officials say other suspects may be arrested as a result shortly.

“We are grateful to Inspector [Mark] Molinari and the Hate Crimes Unit for the swift arrest,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who has been following the rash of incidents. “Now it’s vital that these attackers are prosecuted and made an example of. Releasing perpetrators with minimal consequences will not function as a deterrent.”

Deutsch said that following the four incidents — one in which a punch was thrown — he and Councilman Kalman Yeger met with NYPD commanders who promised additional police patrols for the neighborhood, especially on the Sabbath.

Chief Shea said the suspects in the case ranged in age from 15 to 20 years old and said the incidents may also be linked to similar incidents from a month before.

“What we’ve seen this weekend in these incidents is a car pulling up and anywhere from two to four individuals in that car,” Shea said. “In one incident, they shine a flashlight and yell. There was anti-Semitic language used in one of the incidents and another one involved physical contact where somebody got out and pushed individuals walking on the streets, so we take these incidents extremely seriously. The Hate Crimes Task Force has been plugged in from the start and I think as the investigation proceeds, it’s already moving very rapidly. We should have more to say on hopefully some arrests in a short time.”

Members of the Hate Crimes Taskforce will also be on patrol in the neighborhoods where these attacks have occurred, police say.

Alexander Rappaport said on Twitter just before the Sabbath, “Jews coming home from late Friday night (ritual meal with spiritual leader) will feel safer tonight.”

BP  led conference to focus on hate crimes

In response to the escalation in violent hate crimes in Brooklyn, Anti Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and Borough President Eric L. Adams will join with local faith leaders, elected officials and community partners for a press conference announcing a major new initiative aimed at curbing and reversing the scourge of anti-Semitic violence and hate crimes in the borough and beyond.

The conference will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 11:30 a.m. at Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street.

The Borough President’s office said the NYPD has reported there is a dramatic increase in hate crimes, a disturbing trend where Brooklyn alone experienced at least 93 incidents of anti-Semitic violence, harassment, and vandalism in 2018. That number includes 13 violent anti-Semitic assaults in Brooklyn alone.

Todd Maisel