NEW YORK — A woman accused of slapping three people in one of a series of apparently anti-Semitic attacks reported throughout New York during Hanukkah was charged Saturday with attempted assault as a hate crime, court records show.
However Tiffany Harris, 30, was released without bail after her arraignment on the attempted assault charge and misdemeanor and lower-level charges, according to the records.
The decision to let Harris walk free on her own cognizance came as new rules are set to go into effect in New York which requires judges to release suspects who don’t cause physical injury to their victims, including in cases of hate crimes.
The suspected attack by Harris came as New York officials have vowed to fight anti-Semitism amid a spate of attacks on Orthodox Jews in and around New York City. On Saturday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted that he had “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism after a stabbing attack at a Hanukkah celebration in nearby Monsey, New York.
Cuomo has come under attack for including hate crimes in the bail reform, which is set to go into effect on January 1 and does not allow judge’s discretion in special cases, according to the New York Post.
“You have to beat the hell out of somebody — or murder them — for there to be any consequences,” former state lawmaker Dov Hikind, founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism, told the Post. “Otherwise, you are set free. It’s open season in New York — open season on innocent people. On Jews, on Muslims, on gay people. It applies to anybody. But it’s the Jewish people in particular who have been targeted.”
Defenders of the program say locking suspects up for a few days does not do them much good, and with the new system, judges can force those with mental health issues into treatment programs.
But a New York prosecutor told Pix11 News that judges were “anguished,” over returning possibly violent criminals to the street. Judges began enacting the reform in November in anticipation of it coming to into effect.
Police said Harris slapped three women, ages 22 to 31, in the face and head after encountering them on a corner in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights area. The victims suffered minor pain, police said.
Her lawyer, Iris Ying, declined to comment, and the New York Post reported that Harris rebuffed questions as she left a Brooklyn court.
Around the city, police have gotten at least six reports this week — and eight since December 13 — of attacks believed propelled by anti-Jewish bias, but only one suspect has been given bail.
The attacks come amid a rising tide of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States this year, ranging from mass-murders to graffiti and other vandalism targeting Jews and Jewish institutions.
On December 10, two shooters entered the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, killing three people before being killed by police themselves. Authorities said they were motivated by a hatred of Jews and law enforcement.
New York City Mayor De Blasio said Friday that police presence would increase in Crown Heights and two other Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Jewish populations.