New York police announce hate crimes arrests for series of attacks on Jews

NYPD says juvenile and adult detained for assaults on Jewish men last week, says arrests for anti-Jewish crimes up 45% this year, amid surge in antisemitism

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

Security shootage shows a Jewish man being blasted with a fire extinguisher in New York City on August 21, 2022. (Screenshot)
Security shootage shows a Jewish man being blasted with a fire extinguisher in New York City on August 21, 2022. (Screenshot)

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department on Monday announced two arrests for suspected hate crimes against Jews, as antisemitic attacks continued to surge in the city.

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said at a press conference a man had been arrested on Thursday for striking a Jewish man in the face.

Carrington Maddox, 31, attacked a 27-year-old Jewish man on a city street in the afternoon of August 22, police said.

He was charged with aggravated harassment and menacing as a hate crime.

Maddox has no known criminal history in New York, but has a record in Nevada and Florida. He was staying in Brooklyn’s shelter system at the time of the attack, police said.

Police also arrested a juvenile for two separate incidents that took place before and after that attack.

On August 21, two Jewish men were sprayed with a fire extinguisher while walking to morning prayers in separate incidents minutes apart. One of the victims was 72 and the other was 64.

In both cases, the men were approached by a group, which fled the scene after spraying them with the extinguisher. The 64-year-old was also struck in the face, police said.

The suspect was charged with assault, assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment.

All three attacks took place in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, the home base of the Hasidic Satmar community. There were no serious injuries.

“It is believed these victims were targeted because they were Jewish,” Sewell said at an event in Williamsburg alongside Jewish community representatives and other police officials. “No one deserves to be the victim of such senseless, hateful violence.”

Inspector Andrew Arrias of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force said that when an identifiable group is targeted “in such a clear pattern as this,” it indicates racial targeting.

The NYPD said arrests by its hate crimes task force were up 103% this year, and arrests for attacks on Jews were up 45%.

Police said they were stepping up patrols around synagogues and other sensitive sites, increasing coordination with community safety groups and preparing for the upcoming High Holiday season.

Williamsburg community leader Rabbi Moishe Indig praised the police and called for changes to the city’s bail system, which often lets suspects free for certain crimes.

“I think what we continue to see every day across this city are recidivists, Sewell said. “We see the same people that we are arresting being let back out to inflict more harm, so I do agree that we need to take a hard look at our system.”

Rabbi Sam Stern said the community was concerned about the upcoming start of the school year.

“We’re terrified. We’re distressed. If people can be beaten in the early morning just for going to synagogue, these kids will be afraid of walking out to school,” he said.

Antisemitic incidents in New York City have spiked in recent years. Jews are consistently the group most targeted in hate crimes on an annual basis, in per capita and absolute terms, with the Anti-Defamation League reporting a record-high number of incidents last year.

The NYPD has confirmed 149 anti-Jewish hate crimes between the start of the year and June 28, representing an incident every 29 hours on average. The attacks range from violent assaults to racial slurs and property damage, and many more likely go unreported.

Many of the attacks target visibly identifiable Jews and Jewish targets in Brooklyn.

The NYPD reported 15 anti-Jewish hate crimes in July, a 114% increase over the same period last year.

In other recent cases, on Thursday, the NYPD’s hate crimes unit said it had arrested three juveniles from Staten Island for grand larceny after they allegedly snatched the yarmulke off the head of a 13-year-old.

The Anti-Defamation League said Friday a fire department vehicle had been vandalized with a swastika.

A video released Tuesday showed a young man punching a Jewish man in the face on a city sidewalk.

Earlier this month, the word “Hitler” was painted on the wall of a synagogue used by Holocaust survivors in Brooklyn, and antisemitic leaflets were distributed in residential areas of Long Island.

In a document filed last week to the federal Eastern District of New York court, a judge said a man suspected of setting fire to a yeshiva and synagogue in Brooklyn last year was “suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent” during legal proceedings.

The suspect, Ali Alaheri, was ordered into treatment for at least 90 days before the case can progress.

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