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NYPD investigating suspected hate crimes after Jews doused with fire extinguisher

Series of assaults and harassment on Brooklyn streets cause no serious injuries, as antisemitic crime remains high in New York City

Luke Tress is an editor and a 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 said Monday it was investigating a series of attacks on Jews as possible hate crimes.

All three incidents took place over the weekend in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is the home base of the Satmar Haredi movement. In two of the attacks, a suspect blasted Jewish passers-by with a fire extinguisher.

In one of the attacks, security footage showed an assailant run across a street with a fire extinguisher and approach the victim from behind before dousing him without warning.

In a separate incident, security footage from Saturday night showed two individuals chasing a Jewish man down a city sidewalk in the same neighborhood.

The Jewish man’s shtreimel, a traditional fur hat worn on Shabbat and holidays, fell to the ground during the chase. One of the assailants grabbed it and held it aloft before dropping it to the ground again.

There were no reports of serious injuries in any of the incidents.

The NYPD Hate Crimes unit released photos of a suspect and said the incidents were “being investigated as a hate crime pattern.”

Williamsburg’s Shomrim watch group, which responded to the attacks, called on the public’s help in identifying the suspects.

The Anti-Defamation League said, “This hate needs to be denounced as it has no place in [New York].”

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 ADL 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. Incidents range from violent assaults to racial slurs and property damage, and many more likely go unreported.

Many of the attacks target visibly identifiable Jews in Brooklyn.

Last week, 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.

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