Councilwoman Links 'Knockout Game' With Resentment Toward Jews

CROWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A newly elected member of the New York City Council has expressed a theory as to what the motive is behind the “knockout game” attacks in Crown Heights.

As 1010 WINS’ John Montone reported, Brooklyn Councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo recently said on Facebook that she believes the attacks against Jews in that area are related to a fear of the growing Jewish population by some African-American residents.

In the letter Cumbo said that at a recent community meeting regarding the attacks she shared something she had come to understand while campaigning.  “I shared that many African American/Caribbean residents expressed a genuine concern that as the Jewish community continues to grow, they would be pushed out by their Jewish landlords or by Jewish families looking to purchase homes,” Cumbo said.

“I relayed these sentiments at the forum not as an insult to the Jewish community, but rather to offer possible insight as to how young African American/Caribbean teens could conceivably commit a ‘hate crime’ against a community that they know very little about,” Cumbo continued in the letter.

WEB EXTRA: Click Here To Read Cumbo’s Complete Letter

Some African-American residents told Montone they were unaware of any resentment that the council member spoke of in the letter.

Meanwhile the executive director of the Jewish Future Alliance, Yaccov Behrman, said that while the organization approves of Cumbo’s suggestion that more should be done to bring the youth of Crown Heights together, her connection regarding the “knockout game” is inappropriate.

“To address this subject in a discussion of the current violence in our community is not only inappropriate, it also can be misunderstood as excusing the violence,” Behrman said.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello that he was troubled by the Facebook post.

“It sounds like an excuse. ‘Well you know, people resent the Jewish community.’ It’s crazy, it’s counter productive,” he said.

Cumbo said Wednesday that she’s received a lot of feedback about her letter online, adding that it was primarily positive.

“If these attacks are driven by hate crimes, we have to understand where that hate is coming from.  We just have to understand it. We may be able to arrest the individuals that were involved, but how do we prevent it from happening again?” Cumbo said.

However some Crown Heights residents said that Cumbo may have a point.

“The black people, they resent the Jews because they take over the neighborhood,” Guelda Williams said.

Others said that pinning the attacks on resentment is wrong.

“They just making up an excuse. Nobody has the right to go up and sock somebody in the face,” Laura Skinner said.

Cumbo ran and won with significant support from the Jewish community. Several leaders who endorsed her have called on her to retract her remarks.

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