Swastikas painted in Queens and Brooklyn
by Heather Senison
Nov 09, 2011 | 819 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A week before the 73rd anniversary of “Kristallnacht,” or the “Night of Broken Glass,” when nearly 2,000 Jewish synagogues, homes and stores were broken into and set on fire in Nazi-occupied Germany and Austria, swastikas were painted on buildings in Brooklyn and Queens.

The Nazi symbols were were found last week on the East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights libraries, on the door to the Congregation Tifereth Israel synagogue in Queens, and on the sidewalk near the corner of 10th and Berry streets in Williamsburg.

In response to the racist graffiti, Councilman Daniel Dromm and other local officials raised a $3,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to the capture of the Queens culprits.

Dromm held a press conference outside of the Jackson Heights Library at 35-51 81st Street on Friday, October 4, along with other local elected officials and community members, many of whose family members perished in or narrowly survived the Holocaust, to speak out against the hate crimes in the culturally diverse borough of Queens.

Dromm said the Queens incidents occurred sometime during the night on Wednesday, October 2, and the swastikas were covered during the day until they were removed at about 5 p.m. on Thursday.

“The only way that we can make a hate crime like this stop,” Dromm said, “[so] that we don't have any more hate crimes like this in the city of New York, is to stand up and say, as a community, we will not tolerate this.”

The perpetrators allegedly sprayed the cameras outside the synagogue black before painting the swastikas there, an act Dromm said meant a fear-inducing message was intentional.

He said Tifereth Israel has an elderly congregation, “that is fearful of this type of thing, and what it means to them, because many of them have survived what happened in World War II and what the Nazis did.”

The same synagogue esperienced a similar incident in July. However, Dromm said he believes the rabbi has a video of those perpetrators, but is unaware of whether the video was submitted to police. He encouraged the Police Department (NYPD) to obtain the video and view it to see if there is a possible connection between the incidents.

“This type of a hate crime is intended to put fear in the hearts of people,” he said, “that's why we must stand up and fight them.”

Dromm also said the NYPD had a camera lift on the corner near the Jackson Heights library all week.

“This hate crime happened right under their nose, literally,” he said, adding that “three swastikas were painted on this library, so that person had to be here for a fairly long period of time.”

“I have a lot of questions about that police facility that they had here on the corner: what good are they?” asked queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “What bold people they are who did this, knowing that the police are right there. So we're dealing with some crazy folks here, and it cannot happen again.”

In Brooklyn, Democratic District Leader Lincoln Restler said Williamsburg was also plagued by anti-Hasidic crime during the last year.

"We have an inspiring tradition of diversity and tolerance in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and we must come together and denounce this hateful act," Restler said. "We'll certainly be in contact with the 90th Police Precinct, and my colleagues in elected office and leadership from the Jewish community to ensure a robust and coordinated response."

When asked about the accusations alleged by officials at Dromm's press conference, NYPD Detective Cheryl Crispin of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information's office, said in a statement, "This is an active investigation and the detectives are on the ground canvassing the community for additional video."

Anyone with information on the perpetrators are asked to call 800-577-TIPS. Tipsters can also log into NYPDcrimestoppers.com or text TIP577 to 274637 (CRIMES).

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