Man arrested, charged with hate crimes after driving car at Haredi Jews in Brooklyn

Suspect accused of 10 offenses including attempted murder as hate crime; separately, man indicted for antisemitic slurs at couple who photographed him tearing down hostage posters

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: NYPD vehicles in a religious neighborhood in Brooklyn, November 6, 2022. (Luke Tress)
Illustrative: NYPD vehicles in a religious neighborhood in Brooklyn, November 6, 2022. (Luke Tress)

New York Jewish Week via JTA — A man was arrested on hate crimes charges after aiming his car at Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn on Wednesday.

The incident in Canarsie came as antisemitism has spiked in New York City, and drew condemnation from Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul.

A video posted by the Flatbush Shomrim, a Jewish neighborhood watch group, showed the white sedan jumping a curb and driving onto a dirt yard toward several Orthodox Jewish men, who scrambled out of the way. A second clip in the video showed the vehicle screeching to a halt next to several Jewish men on a sidewalk.

Flatbush Shomrim said in an accompanying social media post that the man had shouted antisemitic slurs during the attack.

An NYPD spokesperson told the New York Jewish Week that the suspect’s name is Asghar Ali and he was charged with more than 10 crimes, including attempted murder as a hate crime.

Hochul said the New York State police were coordinating with the NYPD to investigate the incident.

“Hate crimes have no place in New York and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” she said in a post on X.

Adams said the suspect appeared “to have been emotionally disturbed” and was quickly arrested, and that the incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime.

“There’s no room for hate in the city, and the police department is going to respond accordingly,” the mayor said in a Wednesday interview with the 92.3 FM radio station.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a news conference at City Hall, in New York, December 12, 2023. (Peter K. Afriyie/AP)

The UJA-Federation of New York thanked the NYPD and district attorney’s office for their handling of the incident.

“All steps must be taken to preserve the safety and well-being of our community,” the federation said on X.

There have been at least 285 antisemitic incidents reported to police since the start of October, far higher than the 153 incidents during the same period last year, according to preliminary police data. Jewish security groups say many attacks likely go unreported.

Both before October 7 and since, Jews have consistently been targeted in more hate crimes than any other group in New York City. Between the start of October and the end of March, Jews were the victims of 62% of all hate crimes, according to NYPD data.

Recent years have seen waves of street harassment and attacks against Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. According to the ADL’s audit of antisemitic incidents last year, “visibly Orthodox” Jews were targeted in 31 out of the 51 antisemitic assaults the group recorded in New York City.

In a separate case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Tuesday announced a hate crimes indictment against Skiboky Stora, 40, for attacks on Jews and others.

In November, according to the indictment, a Jewish couple was walking their dogs in Union Square in downtown Manhattan when they witnessed Stora tearing down posters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. The couple took a photo of Stora, who then followed them while shouting antisemitic remarks, including “Die, Jews, Die!”

In addition, since October, Bragg’s office said, Stora has harassed or assaulted several non-Jewish people while making discriminatory remarks. Stora was charged with assault in the third degree as a hate crime, stalking in the third degree as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, Bragg’s office said in a statement.

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