NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn community is on edge as police continue to search for the anti-Semitic vandals who torched cars and scrawled swastikas on sidewalks.
People living in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities are complaining of harassment and anti-Semitic slurs written on walls and even parking meters.
“There has been an increase in anti-Semitism, no question,” said Brooklyn district attorney Joe Hynes, who called it appalling.
Hynes told CBS 2’s John Slattery, “We are very optimistic that we will catch these people.”
Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President, told Slattery, “These are psychopaths that need to be separated from society.”
But Markowitz added hate crimes are not on the rise in Brooklyn, and believes what happened is an anomaly.
“You will discover that they are anti-Semitic hooligans probably drunk on the beer they used and think this is fun,” Markowitz said.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Story
Last week, at least three cars were set ablaze and dozens of pieces of anti-Semitic graffiti were plastered along benches in Midwood. The cars were damaged and the benches vandalized along Ocean Parkway between Avenues I and J. Among the vandalism: “KKK” scrawled nearby, as well as numerous swastikas.
“It was done intentionally,” Markowitz told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
Police in the 66th Precinct bolstered patrols in the neighborhood — especially the scene of the attack.
Fingerprints and DNA have been lifted from several beer bottles left at the scene and Hynes said thanks to forensic testing authorities are in a stronger position to find the suspects than they would have been 20 years ago.
Hynes said he doesn’t know if this is a case of repeat offenders.
On Sunday, about 100 Midwood residents joined elected officials in a march past four public benches from which 16 swastikas had been removed after the pre-dawn attack Friday.
Residents want the perpetrators caught and punished as examples.
“Especially as a preventive thing, but not because of saying hey we are in a new era. There’s no such a thing in my eyes,” Midwood resident David Israel told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it on the TV, that they came into our quiet neighborhood,” resident Sandy Aboulafia added.
But hate messages have happened elsewhere.
In 2009, in Edison, N.J., Congregation Beth El Synagogue had swastikas spray painted on its front doors, one of several anti-Semitic incidents over the years.
“There have been nine cases of swastikas, here in this township, not one person has been caught yet,” Rabbi Bernard Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg pointed to the timing of the Brooklyn attack. Just a day after what Jews remember as the night of broken glass in Europe, marking the beginning of the Holocaust.
“This was predictable. The people who did this knew that Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, was on that date, I guarantee it,” Rosenberg said.
Catching those responsible is a top priority for these residents. Many have given the police important tips.
“About a specific address for police to look into, something about neo-Nazis handing out flyers, and they said they were aware of it, and they’re looking into it,” resident Simon Gifter said.
And the Anti-Defamation League said it will make sure of it, because the threat may be here today and somewhere else tomorrow.
“We are all together in the fight against hate. No one community owns it. No one community can fight it alone, so today’s anti-Semitism, tomorrow could be anti-gay. It could be anti-anything,” ADL New York Director Ron Meyer said.
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