The NYPD’s 107th Precinct is investigating an antisemitic incident in Kew Gardens Hills, after several newspaper stands distributing Jewish publications were vandalized with swastikas as the Jewish community observed Yom Kippur on Wednesday, Oct. 5th.
A distribution manager from the Queens Jewish Link found the swastika markings early Thursday morning, Oct. 6, while delivering papers to Aron’s Kissena Farm, located at 72-15 Kissena Blvd. The publication tweeted that the Shmira Queens Borough Safety Patrol reported the incident to the 107th Precinct.
According to the NYPD, the incident occurred between the hours of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, and 2:10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6. A report was filed for aggravated harassment after an unidentified individual made antisemitic messages with a black marker on the newspaper bin and several newspapers. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident as a hate crime and there are no arrests, police said.
Yaakov Serle, co-publisher of Queens Jewish Link, thanked the Shmira Queens Borough Safety Patrol for their quick response and the Chaverim for removing the graffiti.
“The entire community owes a debt of gratitude to Avi Conway and Shabsie Saphirstein for alerting Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal and Deputy Inspector Kevin Chang about this disgraceful [antisemitic] act,” Serle tweeted. “ Our community must always come together to fight antisemitism. As Meshulem Lisker said, ‘Any [antisemitic] act is an act against our entire nation.’”
Rosenthal, who represents Kew Gardens Hills, said the graffiti has been removed by Chaverim, a volunteer group in the community.
“This is extremely painful. It happened in the middle of the Jewish community, in front of a large Kosher grocery store on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. It comes to your sense of security that this happens in your own backyard where you live,” Rosenthal told QNS.
The Assemblyman had tweeted in response to the incident saying, “The continued rise of antisemitism is unsustainable and unacceptable.”
Rosenthal is calling on the NYPD to increase patrol in Jewish communities throughout the city, as residents observe the Jewish holiday season.
“Last year, New York state had the highest incidences of antisemitic attacks in the country. We need more than words. We need action. People who commit hate crimes need to know there are going to be severe consequences,” Rosenthal said. “If you commit a crime against any person or community because of their race, religion, or ethnicity, that is one of the most disturbing types of crime that goes against everything America was founded on. Those types of crimes must be taken more seriously.”
Queens lawmakers, such as Congresswoman Grace Meng, Senator Leroy Comrie and Borough President Donovan Richards, condemned the antisemitic attack.
“I am shocked and outraged over this disgusting vandalism and I condemn it,” said Meng, who is co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism.
“This antisemitism is completely unacceptable, especially during Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day of the year in the Jewish faith. Hate will never be tolerated in Queens. There is no place for it in our borough or anywhere in our society, and we must all denounce these despicable acts whenever and wherever they occur.”
Comrie tweeted that “No one should live in fear of hate crimes, hate-fueled vandalism, or hateful threats,” and that he “stands in solidarity with his colleagues and all those who work to ensure Queens residents can live safely as the ‘Borough of Families.’”
Richards tweeted a message to the suspect responsible for the incident.
“Your act of hate and weakness will do nothing to intimidate our borough. You failed. All it will do is bring us closer together as we uplift and support Queens’ proud Jewish community, especially after the holy holidays,” Richards wrote.