In the wake of a jarring incident in which a vandal scrawled an anti-Semitic rant on a mailbox on a Bay Ridge street, the neighborhood’s elected officials are vowing to take strong action.
The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the case after an anti-Semitic message was discovered on a mailbox at Fourth Avenue and 95th Street, outside St. Patrick Catholic Church, on June 5, according to Councilmember Justin Brannan, who said he was relieved to see the quick police response.
The vandal wrote the words “Kill All Jews” on the portion of the front of the mailbox listing the pickup schedule. Next to the anti-Semitic message was a curious drawing that appeared to a haphazard attempt at a swastika. There were two other messages left by the vandal — one that read “Israel Now” and another bearing the name of the late former New York governor, Mario Cuomo.
Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, a Democrat representing Coney Island and parts of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, expressed shock at the incident and said she plans to bring religious leaders together to develop a strategy on how the community should deal with hate crimes.
“I have already begun reaching out to religious leaders across my district and plan to bring us together in the near future to discuss how we can respond as a community to these atrocities,” she said.
Frontus, who posted a statement on Facebook on Wednesday, said she was notified by officials at the 68th Precinct about the disturbing incident.
“I received some disturbing news just now from the 68th Precinct regarding another anti-Semitic hate crime in my district. I’m saddened to share that this morning the words ‘Kill All Jews’ were found on the mailbox in front of St. Patrick’s Church on 95th and 4th in Bay Ridge. It’s unfortunate that anti-Semitic vandalism and hate crimes have been on the rise in the borough of Brooklyn,” she wrote.
The U. S. Postal Service was notified about the hate crime and replaced the mailbox.
Brannan, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst, said public awareness is a key to fighting hate.
“We all have a responsibility to call out hate in whatever form it takes — because where anti-Semitism exists and persists, so do xenophobia, Islamophobia and homophobia. Hate thrives when we are divided and silence begets complicity. We cannot be afraid to say hate is not welcome here,” Brannan told the Home Reporter in an email.
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican whose district also includes parts of Bay Ridge, said the hate crime was even more shocking because it took place on June 5, the day before the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
“These writings called for the killing of all Jewish people and must be condemned and denounced in the strongest terms. It is shameful that on the eve of the anniversary of D-Day, where thousands of American heroes gave their lives to eliminate this kind of hatred, this ideology rears its ugly head in our community,” Malliotakis said in a statement.
Malliotakis expressed confidence that the vandal would be caught. “I stand side by side with the Jewish community, and the Bay Ridge community, as we fight to end this hatred, bigotry and racism once and for all. I have spoken to the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force, have full confidence that our Police Department will identify and charge the perpetrator, and I will continue to follow closely as more details emerge from the ongoing investigation,” she stated.
U.S. Rep. Max Rose, who is Jewish, called the mailbox incident jarring.
“We must soundly reject and push back against acts of anti-Semitism and hate. It’s jarring that hate crimes are surging in New York City, with attacks on Jews almost doubling since last year. This cannot continue. We all must join together in efforts of unity in the face of hate,” said Rose, who contacted the U.S. Postal Service as soon as he learned of the hate crime.
Rose, a Democrat, represents Southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island.
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes called the incident deplorable and said it is part of a disturbing pattern. “This is deplorable and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. This is the third act of anti-Semitic graffiti in southern Brooklyn in recent weeks, and is part of an alarming increase in anti-Semitic attacks across NYC,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Bay Ridge incident comes as the city grapples with a sharp increase hate crimes.
There have been 184 hate crimes so far this year, the New York Times reported.
That’s a 64 percent increase over last year, when 112 incidents were reported.
The Times reported that the vast majority of the hate crime incidents are anti-Semitic.