A mob of teenagers in Crown Heights, New York City, vandalized a Jewish-owned business Saturday night, then damaged several nearby cars and buses before shouting “Heil Hitler” and leaving the area, witnesses said. The incident was captured on security camera.
The store, Gourmet Butchers, was likely targeted because it was owned by Jews, the owner, Yanki Klein, told the local ABC News affiliate. The group, which various media sources described as consisting of 30 to 70 youths, primarily African-American, started “to scream and make noise” and then “everything happened in seconds,” Klein said.
Another witness told the station that “a whole bunch of guys, they just rush the place. It was like out of nowhere, and everyone was just in like shock-mode, and everyone was shocked to see what was going on, there was no reason for it.” The same witness said that members of the group shouted “a Nazi phrase” before running away.
The video footage, posted to YouTube, shows a group of youths gathering outside the store, then cuts to several of them bursting through the main entrance, knocking over a shelf and throwing products around before leaving.
Police were called to the scene and an investigation was launched into the incident.
According to an account posted on the neighborhood news site Crownheights.info, the store has been targeted in the past by similar acts of vandalism carried out by smaller groups or individuals, and the owner has requested more police presence in the area, but to no avail. “[Very often] these kinds of kids come by my store and yell ‘Heil Hitler,’ or steal things that are on shelves near the door… I’ve asked the police to put an officer on my corner many times, but I feel like I am being ignored and these ‘minor’ problems keep happening.” Klein said.
The Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, home to a large population of both Hasidic Jews and African Americans, has in the past been a flash point of tension between the two communities.