New York government officials publicly condemned the New York Post Sunday, hours after the paper published a front-page picture of a slain Hasidic businessman and the headline “Who didn’t want him dead?”
The smoldering, half-burned body of real estate developer Menachem Stark, 39, was found Saturday in a dumpster in Nassau County, two days after he was reported missing.
The NY Post story referred to Stark as a slumlord and posited that Stark had a number of enemies who would want to kill him. The article included a long list of purported crimes perpetrated by Stark, including charges of unpaid debt, countless unresolved building violations, and questionable financial dealings.
“I understand that the New York Post wants to sell papers and that they are willing to sacrifice the standards of propriety from time to time. But there is a difference between bad taste and just plain indecency,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind posted on his Facebook page on Sunday. “The pain that this headline caused to not only a man’s family but to the entire Jewish community is indescribable and was so unnecessary. It was a heartless act that should never have been allowed. It was truly beneath contempt.”
— Williamsburg News (@WillamsburgNews) January 5, 2014
Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), condemned the “incredibly insensitive and crass cover” that “mocks the kidnapping and brutal murder,” according to Yeshiva World News. Both Felder and Hikind are Orthodox Jews.
City Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) also slammed the news coverage of Stark’s death.
“For the New York Post to suggest that a person deserved to be murdered is sickening and reaches a new low. The New York Post should pull their story and issue an apology to the family and community that are still in mourning,” Levin said.
Activists also took to social media to protest the NY Post cover. Since Sunday morning, a Facebook group “Condemn the NY Post for Sunday’s Cover Page” garnered over 3,000 “Likes,” and a Change.org petition accusing the Post of encouraging crime gathered over 3,000 signatures.
Police identified a half-charred body found in a dumpster in Long Island on Saturday as that of Stark, who had been reported missing from Thursday night. The Satmar Hasid and father of eight had reportedly been carrying thousands of dollars on him when he was kidnapped outside of his Brooklyn office.
Video footage taken from Stark’s office reportedly showed him being taken into a van after a struggle outside his office in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.