Armed with an 18-inch machete, a masked man walked into a Chanukah lighting ceremony of a Monsey rebbe on Motzoei Shabbos and began a frenetic stabbing spree, running from room to room in search of more victims.
“No one is leaving,” shouted the assailant, a bearded African American, at the several dozen people sitting in the home of Rav Chaim Leibish Rottenberg, the Kossoner Rebbe of Forshay. The rebbe had just finished his menorah lighting and zemiros and was preparing to his beis medrash, Netzach Yisroel, for melave malka.
It was 9:52 p.m. By the time the attacker, Grafton Thomas, 37, was done, five Jews were injured, one of them gravely. Three are out of the hospital, with one still under medical care for severed fingers. One of the lightly injured men is the son of Rav Rottenberg. The fifth, Yehosef Neumann, is in critical condition. He was scheduled to marry off a daughter this past Monday night.
One witness described the attack as a chaotic scene punctuated with panic and screams. The dining room emptied in seconds as the assailant carried out his attack wordlessly. The carnage ended 10 minutes later when a bystander seized a small table and threw it at Thomas, forcing him out.
Yosef Elya Glick said in an interview that he had escaped through a side door but ran back to help save others.
“I came back in, grabbed a coffee table that was on the floor, hit him in his face and that’s when he came back outside after me,” Glick said. “That’s when he told me, ‘Hey you, I’ll get you.’ I was a few feet in front of him and screaming, ‘He’s coming! He’s coming! Everyone should run away!’”
The knifeman then ran to the shul next door where people were setting up melave malka. Hearing the noise, the people inside quickly locked the doors to the shul, denying Thomas the ability to resume his bloodshed.
Shimki Kohn, the rebbe’s gabbai, said that the rebbe, in the days since, has repeatedly noted the miracle that the murderer arrived precisely at that time, after the Chanukah ceremony and before melave malka.
“If he would have come 10 minutes earlier or 10 minutes later,” the rebbe said, “things would have been much worse.” There had been about 100 people there just minutes before. Most of them left to prepare for melava malka.
Levy Kraus, 15, said he was near the rebbe’s home when he saw a tall man enter with an object.
“He had something in his hand. It looked like an umbrella. It was covered,” Kraus said.
Before departing, Thomas banged on the rov’s door and shouted at Glick, “I’ll get you yet!” He then got into his silver colored car and fled, but Glick ran out and was able to get the license plate number. Law enforcement agencies across the region went on a high alert in search for the would-be murderer.
Ramapo’s police chief, Brad Weidel, praised Glick for his level-headedness in tagging the license plate number. “It was critical to the case,” Weidel said.
Captured Within Two Hours in Harlem
Thomas drove over the George Washington Bridge shortly before midnight. His license was spotted by officers manning bridge cameras. They radioed ahead to the precinct to be on the lookout for the approaching vehicle. The attacker was stopped in Harlem by two police officers who recognized the license plate. In a video released by the NYPD, the two officers, David Radziwon and Russell Mattera, are seen cutting off the suspect’s car before calmly getting out, raising their guns and ordering Thomas to exit his vehicle.
Police searched Thomas’ car and found the machete under the front passenger seat as well as a knife, which were both covered in dried blood, as was Thomas’ clothes. Police reported a strong scent of bleach, indicating Thomas attempted to destroy evidence of his crime. He was arrested and transferred to Ramapo, where he was arraigned on five state counts of attempted murder Sunday morning and held on a $5 million bail.
The next day, the federal Department of Justice stepped in, revoking his bail and announcing new federal charges of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by attempting to kill with a dangerous weapon.
In a release, US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Thomas “targeted his victims in the midst of a religious ceremony, transforming a joyous Hanukkah celebration into a scene of carnage and pain.”
Thomas, his ankles shackled, shuffled into the courtroom in a prison jumpsuit, telling a judge who asked him if his head was clear that he was “not clear at all” and needed sleep. But he added: “I am coherent.”
The defense’s tactics, though, appears to be to try painting him as incoherent. His court-appointed attorney, Susanne Brody, said Thomas has struggled with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Another attorney retained by his family, Michael Sussman, said Thomas had been hearing voices and may have stopped taking psychiatric medications recently.
Handwritten journals found in his home in Greenwood Lake, in Orange County, included comments questioning “why ppl mourned for anti-Semitism when there is Semitic genocide” and a page with drawings of a Star of David and a swastika.
A phone recovered from his car included repeated internet searches for “Why did Hitler hate the Jews” as well as “German Jewish Temples near me” and “Prominent companies founded by Jews in America,” the complaint said.
On the day of the stabbings, the phone’s browser was used to access an article in Time titled: “New York City Increases Police Presence in Jewish Neighborhoods After Possible Anti-Semitic Attacks. Here’s What To Know.”
Sussman told reporters he visited Thomas’ home and found stacks of notes he described as “the ramblings of a disturbed individual” but nothing to point to an “anti-Semitic motive” or suggest Thomas intentionally targeted the rabbi’s home.
“My impression from speaking with him is that he needs serious psychiatric evaluation,” Sussman said. “His explanations were not terribly coherent.”
Thomas grew up in Crown Heights near Jews and never bothered them, his family said in a statement, but he has a long history of mental illness, including multiple hospitalizations.
“He has no history of violent acts and no convictions for any crime,” his family said in a statement. “He has no known history of anti-Semitism and was raised in a home which embraced and respected all religions and races. He is not a member of any hate groups.”
Although Sussman said Thomas has no criminal convictions or “history of like violent acts,” a security official briefed on the case said he had been arrested at least seven times since 2001, including an arrest for assaulting a police horse.
Thomas a Product of Reagan’s 1986 Amnesty
Thomas’ father is a Mormon who married an immigrant from Guyana, an African country. His mother, a registered nurse, apparently came to the United States illegally but took advantage of President Ronald Reagan’s amnesty in 1986, according to a tweet by Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary at the department of homeland security.
“The attacker is the U.S. Citizen son of an illegal alien who got amnesty under the 1986 amnesty law for illegal immigrants,” Cuccinelli said in a tweet that he deleted after a backlash from liberals. “Apparently, American values did not take hold among this entire family, at least this one violent, and apparently bigoted, son.”
Thomas served in the Marines, though he never graduated, and claimed to have been “class president” at a high school in Queens. He attended William Paterson University between 2005 and 2007, the university confirmed, where he played football as a walk-on running back.
Thomas’ family said his mental health deteriorated over the years. He would hear voices and have trouble completing sentences at times. Thomas said a voice talked to him about property that was in the rabbi’s house, according to Sussman.
In court papers filed in a 2013 eviction case in Utah, Thomas said he suffered from schizophrenia, depression and anxiety and his “conditions are spontaneous and untamed.”
The criminal complaint said one passage in Thomas’ journals stated that the “Hebrew Israelites” took from the “ebinoid Israelites.” The FBI agent who wrote the complaint said that appeared to be a reference to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. The group, which believes they are the “real” Jews while Jews are imposters, was also tied to the Jersey City massacre three weeks ago.
Cuomo Calls for Creating Category of ‘Domestic Terrorism’
Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the home of the Kossoner Rebbe on Sunday morning and then held a meeting with local leaders. He told a press conference at the Ramapo City Hall that the Monsey savagery was the 13th anti-Semitic attack in New York since Dec. 8. The governor said the state police’s hate crime task force will investigate and denounced the attack as “intolerance meets ignorance meets illegality.”
“It is an American cancer that is spreading in the body politic,” he said. “An American cancer, turned one cell in the body against the other. Once we become intolerant of differences, then we are intolerant with America, because America is all about differences. We are all from someplace else, and we were founded on the premise of tolerance for the differences.”
On Sunday, he renewed calls for New York to become the first state in the country with a law on domestic terrorism. A proposal he advocated earlier this year would treat mass shootings motivated by attributes such as race and national origins as punishable by as much as life in prison without parole, similar to terrorist crimes.
Cuomo said he would include it in his state of the state address next week Wednesday.
The attack made headlines across the world and was on front pages and leading on news websites for the next 48 hours.
President Donald Trump condemned the “horrific” attack, saying in a tweet Sunday that “We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism.”
At a press conference in Manhattan on Monday, New York’s senior senator, Charles Schumer, said he would quadruple the New Generation Scholars Program that allocates security grants for private schools and nonprofit organizations from $90 million to $360 million. He said it will be a bipartisan bill and won’t get blocked by Washington’s political gridlock.
The Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations urged Jews not to see this as an attack based on race. They condemned the Monsey attack “in the strongest possible terms” and said the surge in anti-Semitic attacks is a “disturbing trend both here in the United States and abroad.” Even race baiter Al Sharpton, who has still never apologized for his own role inciting the Crown Heights Riots of 1991, held a news conference Monday to denounce anti-Semitism.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement urging Trump to instruct the FBI to create a special task force to address the violence.
‘We Will Forge Forward in Faith and Thanks’
Back in Monsey, the rebbe did not change his routine. A great-great-grandson of Rav Yeshaya Kerestirer, known for lavish seudos in which anyone was invited, the rebbe proceeded to his public melave malka, calling on people to daven for the man most grievously injured, Yehosef ben Perel.
The next day, a previously scheduled hachnosas sefer Torah to a shul on the same block affectionally known as “Scheiner’s,” passed by the Forshay shul for a spirited thanksgiving for the lives that were saved. Representatives of the national media in town for the news story angled for videos of the celebratory crowd.
Rabbi Rottenberg released a statement Sunday, writing that the Jewish people will “forge forward in faith” and he will not change his routine.
“Last night’s brutal attack sent shock waves through our community and around the world; yet, with G-d’s help, the casualties were less extensive than what might have been,” he said, in a statement. He added that he will be having extra security going forward, “we will forge forward in faith and thanks that we continue to live under G-d’s ultimate protection.”
Was Thomas Behind Unsolved Attack Last Month?
Jewish communities in the New York City metropolitan area have been left shaken following the deadly shooting rampage at a Jersey City kosher market. Four people—three who had been inside the store and a police officer—died in the gun battle and standoff that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said was “fueled” by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.
Last month, a 30-year-old Jewish man was stabbed while walking to shul in Monsey. The victim required extensive surgery and rehabilitation. Police are investigating whether the assailant in the Forshay stabbing was involved in that as well.
Interestingly, a report in the New York Post said that Thomas’ car had been seen in the vicinity of the stabbing last month and he was questioned. Police released him after concluding he was uninvolved. If true, this would call into question Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s repeated assertions that the stabbing was not a hate crime.
Attacks Against Jews Over One a Day
Since then, there have been 16 reports of anti-Semitic violence in New York and New Jersey. Just for the week of Chanukah, New York City itself has had six attacks motivated by anti-Jewish bias.
“Attacks on Jewish New Yorkers were reported almost every single day this past week,” tweeted Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a member of the Jewish community. She described the Forshay attack as one of “pure evil” and prayed that “the candles of Chanukah burn bright through this darkness.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that police presence would increase in Boro Park, Williamsburg and Crown Heights. Additional New York City police officers were also being sent to those neighborhoods, along with six new lighting towers and additional security cameras, de Blasio said.
“Fearing the next act of terror will not become the new normal for our Jewish neighbors,” de Blasio said at a press conference at Grand Army Plaza, shortly before he participated in a menorah lighting ceremony at the site, which boasts the world’s largest menorah.
He said that the NYPD will increase patrols by four to six officers in precincts in Boro Park, Midwood, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg, in addition to an increased presence at houses of worship and during local events.
A new program called Neighborhood Safety Coalitions will launch in Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Boro Park, and will be overseen by the newly created Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. These groups will identify and address issues that drive hate-based crimes, and strategize about ways to interrupt them.
The coalitions are based on the model in use by residents in East Flatbush and Williamsburg/Bushwick to combat gun violence.
The mayor said that the city’s Department of Education will implement hate crime awareness lessons beginning next month for middle and high schools in Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Boro Park. Curriculum on hate crimes will be launched in these neighborhoods beginning in the upcoming school year this September. These curriculum resources will also be available to middle and high schools citywide.
The department will use their annual Respect for All week in February to focus on preventing and addressing hate crimes. Schools are encouraged to develop opportunities for students to discuss what discrimination and religious intolerance might look like in a school and explore the positive actions they can take to promote acceptance.
The city will also launch a series of advertising and social media campaigns to highlight the city’s diversity and encourage respect for all communities.
None of the four Orthodox elected officials attended the menorah lighting event. Tweets by several of them suggested that they did not agree with the mayor’s light-on-crime approach.
“Talk is cheap, Mr. Mayor,” tweeted Sen. Simcha Felder. “We need a permanent police increase in these neighborhood precincts so NYPD has manpower to put cops back on the beat, on foot, bikes and motorcycles and reinstitute the chassidic decoy program! We don’t want window dressing, we want tangible action now!”
Councilmen Chaim Deutsch and Kalman Yeger issued a joint I-told-you-so statement.
“For two years, we have been sounding the alarm and asking for resources to confront rising anti-Semitism. We have begged for extra cops, for security funds, for more cameras, and for more attention towards this growing problem. Day after day, month after month, we had doors slammed in our faces. We were told to relax — that this isn’t as big a deal as we think it is. Do you believe us now?
“We renew these calls for extra resources — we need to be able to tell our communities that New York is doing everything possible to keep them safe,” the duo continued. “That fact is that our constituents have been seeing video after video of their neighbors being beaten on the street and harassed. Then they have watched as the attackers walk out of the courthouse scot-free, with a city-sponsored gift card in their wallet.”
Cuomo responded by sending State Troopers to stand guard outside key Jewish locations. On Sunday, there were uniformed troopers on 13th Ave. and in front of Bobover beis medrash on 15th Ave.
Rockland County’s executive, Ed Day, announced Monday morning that he was working with a local private security firm, Brosnan Risk Consultants, to work with law enforcement to provide free armed patrols and high-tech technology for shuls in the county.
The Guardian Angels, led by radio personality Curtis Sliwa, resumed patrols in Crown Heights, decades after ending them. The group, founded in 1979, is made up of unarmed people with berets and red uniforms to fill in where police patrols fall short.
“These attacks are taking place, and the cops have not been proactive at all,” Sliwa told NBC News. “It comes from City Hall and the mayor. He’s been just apathetic.”
Sliwa says his Guardian Angels will be patrolling at the request of the Jewish community, who are not satisfied with the response from the governor and the mayor to the ongoing crisis.
He says that his group’s visible red caps and jackets will make offenders think twice before attacking. “Nobody’s going to commit an attack when we’re around,” he said.
And in the event that anything does happen? “We’ll physically restrain the persons responsible, make a citizen’s arrest, and hold them until the police arrive.”
Is Trump Responsible?
Members of the community responded with outrage after Cuomo and de Blasio tried blaming President Donald Trump for the recent hate attacks against the Jewish community. The violence has mostly occurred in states where Trump is reviled, such as New York, and the perpetrators are mostly minorities, who generally support Democrats.
De Blasio blamed the series of attacks in his city as part of “an atmosphere of hate [that] has been developing in this country over the last few years. A lot of it is emanating from Washington and it’s having an effect on all the way.”
Cuomo said, “I don’t want to politicize this issue, but there is an atmosphere of hate and anger that is pervasive in this country, and it is either emanated from or resonates from Washington, DC.”
De Blasio’s attributing the crime spree at the president prompted Trump’s attorney — and one of de Blasio’s most famous predecessors — to knock him back.
“Possibly the worst Mayor in NYC, de Blasio, has watched anti-Semitism rapidly metastasize, like a cancer, & is too unconcerned or lazy to ‘nip it in the bud.’ Otherwise called Broken windows theory, which should be brought back,” tweeted Rudy Giuliani, whose tough-on-crime tactics brought down murders in the city from the thousands to the hundreds in the 1990s.
De Blasio fired back during a cable television interview Monday when asked about the tweets.
“It’s striking how out of touch Rudy Giuliani is at this point. He doesn’t even understand what’s happening in New York City,” de Blasio said. “The NYPD very, very consistently deals with quality of life crimes, hate crimes, the smaller things like graffiti.”
Jews Decry Years-Long Atmosphere of Hate by Local Officials
Local Jews, however, said that the atmosphere of hate fostered by officials — Sen. Ellen Jaffe and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, in particular — is responsible for the escalation into violence.
During a meeting called by Attorney General Letitia James in Monsey on Monday, Yossi Gestetner, a local activist said, “The big issue we may have when people say we have to call out anti-Semitism on social media is that people then say, ‘It’s not anti-Semitism; I’m only talking about taxes, I’m only talking about development, I’m only talking about private schools.’”
“On its face,” he said, “that’s not anti-Semitism. But we have here in Rockland County the largest Facebook page that’s called ‘Clarkstown What They Don’t Want You to Know,’ and there are officials in this room whose supporters comment and share actively on that page.”
The online page regularly rails against Jews, accusing them of having unsafe houses and yeshivos, not paying taxes and taking from the dole. It highlights every scandal in the world that involves frum people, painting it as the frum way of life.
Jaffe stood up in middle to confer with a staffer, appearing to weigh leaving in protest, but otherwise did not react. She has pushed for state oversight of yeshivos to bringing safety and fire inspections of yeshivos under county control.
James appeared to take the complaints seriously, jotting down the name of the Facebook page and taking notes. She told the elected officials that anyone who uses the term “bloc vote” or “block the bloc” to refer to the Orthodox community is “an anti-Semite.” The “bloc” term is widely used by opponents of the community.
Asher Grossman, deputy mayor of Spring Valley, said, “In the charges [against Thomas] it’s mentioned that he looked up propaganda [against Jews] on the internet,” Grossman said. “Unfortunately, some of the propaganda is created right here in this county. And unfortunately, some of our local elected officials write on this pages. I understand freedom of speech; no one here is against it. But our elected officials — some of whom are in this room — need to take a closer look at their actions.”
“The rhetoric of politicians in this county, who are dividing us and separating us,” added Rockland County legislator Itamar Yeger, “has led to the situation we are seeing today.”
Ed Day, the county executive, boycotted the meeting. But he did attend a simultaneous gathering called by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at Ramapo Town Hall, where similar complaints were heard. “This has been in the making for many, many years,” New Square Mayor Izzy Spitzer said about the machete attack.
Day did not speak during the conference, but said afterward that “there are three sides to every story.”
Toward the end of the meeting, Maureen Porette, who lost the county executive race to Day in 2017, rose to confront Day for the animosity of his actions and rhetoric.
“You need to be held accountable for rhetoric that incites violence,” she said, staring at Day.
The county executive stared back but did not respond.
New Fears: Ending of Cash Bail
A law passed several months ago that goes into effect Jan. 1 is getting a hard look by law enforcement agencies in the wake of the Monsey attack.
The end of cash bail, passed in the state budget this past April and signed by Cuomo, eliminates judges’ discretion to hold suspects in lieu of bail. It also allows every defendant access to all information related to his case, regardless of the threat it poses to the victim.
Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco urged Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, during the governor’s visit on Sunday to reconsider the new law.
“I didn’t make any bones about it when I said to him, you know, we’ve had these new criminal-justice reforms and part of the criminal-justice reforms, there’s hate crimes where there’s no bail,” Falco told reporters, while standing next to Cuomo. “I honestly believe that our legislature needs to go back and start looking at some of these things. I think reforms are good, but I do think some of them have to be looked at to go even further where he wants to go with his domestic terrorism stuff.”
In the case of bail reform, the list of crimes for which judges can no longer order bail and must release the suspect is lengthy. These include assaulting someone as a hate crime, stalking, criminally negligent homicide and even bail jumping. The law specifically demands that the judge must release the defendant without bail, “regardless of criminal record, ties to the community or previous bench warrants on other cases.”
About 3,800 inmates across the state have been or are expected to be released as a result of the new law, according to a review by USA Today.
The second part of the law deals with what is known as discovery. Currently, a defense attorney who represents a felon is permitted to request all documents and information in the possession of the prosecutor relevant to the case. This includes witness and victim statements, grand jury minutes, and other evidence such as DNA tests. This information is in order to aid the accused in mounting a defense.
Discovery, however, is usually turned over once a trial date is set, which only occurs in about 3 percent of all cases. The new law will now require the prosecution to automatically turn over discovery within 15 days of arraignment. This means that even in cases where there is no trial, the defendant will have access to witness information and statements, and other documents that would otherwise not be released. He will even be able to force the victim to allow him access to their house if that’s where the crime was committed.
Prosecutors fear that the new law will hold victims back from pressing charges over anxiety that they would have to allow their attacker into their home and have him know so much about them.
Councilman Chaim Deutsch, a Democrat from Midwood, is warning that the new law will bring more crime and lead to thousands of criminals out in the streets. He is urging residents to join a letter he drafted to Cuomo.
“This is the new world we live in here in New York City,” Deutsch said, “and it’s frightening.”
He noted the case of Peter Weyand, a 33-year-old who was released from custody without bail after menacing a roommate with a knife last month. Two weeks ago, he entered Yeshiva University’s girls’ dormitory building and set a series of fires in the rooms as students slept. He was charged and immediately released, again without bail. He was arrested hours later after he broke into someone’s house in Staten Island. He was booked and, again, released without bail.
“Rising hate crimes, prolific drug usage, and frequent news of violent attacks, such as the murder of young Tessa Majors just this month,” Deutsch writes in his letter to Cuomo, referring to the 18-year-old college student stabbed to death in a Manhattan park, “leave us wondering why you have chosen to implement vast changes in the way our state approaches suspects in criminal activity.
“With these changes, along with the rise in crime and bias incidents and the closing of Rikers Island,” he added, “we are deeply worried for the future of this great city. We don’t want to see our streets turn back in time, to the dangerous days of the 1980s.”
Arrested, Freed, Arrested, Freed
Even before the law took effect, judges have begun releasing defendants without asking for bail.
One case that has drawn fears in the Orthodox community came this week, when a Flatbush woman who slapped three Jewish women while shouting curses at Jews was freed without bail for the second time in three days.
Tiffany Harris, 30, was first arrested on Saturday in the assault that took place two days before in front of 770 Eastern Parkway, the main Chabad headquarters. Despite a thick police record of 13 arrests, most for assault, she was booked and released by Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Laura Johnson, who mentioned the bail reform initiative as the reason.
“So I’m releasing her on consent and also because it will be required under the statute in just a few days,” the judge said. “Ms. Harris, you’re being released on your own recognizance.”
Harris was arrested again on Sunday, this time for attacking a 35-year-old Jewish woman in Prospect Heights. Police inexplicably did not charge her for a hate crime the second time, since they said she did not say anything anti-Jewish this time.
Exasperated prosecutors asked Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Archana Rao to impose some kind of monitoring on Harris while she awaits trial.
“We’re here two days after the defendant was here on another case,” said an assistant district attorney. “We do think the highest level of supervision available would be appropriate.”
But Rao released Harris, again without bail. As a condition of her release, she warned Harris not to be arrested for a third time while the matter is pending in court. “Yes, ma’am,” Harris responded.
A cousin of one of last week’s victims said that police had assured her that since the case was a hate crime, Harris would not be released.
“The young woman [who] was punched in the face is very traumatized,” the cousin said.
In Boro Park, a drunk driver who crashed into two cars on Sunday was not taken into custody — with police citing the new law ending cash bail. No one was injured in the incident and the driver was transported by EMS to the hospital.
Jews Victims of Ongoing Crime Spree in NYC
Jews in New York City have seen a virtually nonstop surge of violence in recent weeks, sandwiched on one end by the deadly Jersey City attack and on the other by the Forshay assault.
The first incident occurred in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood on Monday, when a frum person was punched in the face and kicked repeatedly after he fell to the ground. In Williamsburg that same day, children aged six and seven were attacked while standing in the hallway of an apartment building.
Then, in the early hours of Tuesday, a group of youths shouted expletives and anti-Semitic slurs at a Jewish man walking in Crown Heights. When the man took out his phone to record the incident, one of the teenagers threw a Slurpee at him and continued shouting anti-Semitic comments. Also in Crown Heights, a suspect punched a Jewish man in the back of the head that afternoon. Another person filmed the attack while laughing uproariously.
On Wednesday, a Jewish man was punched in the head. The next day, a 34-year-old woman walking in Boro Park with her four-year-old son was hit in the head with a bag. The suspect, a woman, ripped the child out of his mother’s hands. When the mother began screaming, a passerby intervened and held down the attacker until police arrived and arrested her.
On Friday morning, an African American man walked into the main Lubavitcher shul in Crown Heights and shouted that he was “going to shoot up the place and kill everyone.” The man then fled on foot.
On Sunday, footage was released showing a young chassidishe man walking on Albany Ave. and Lincoln Place when he was accosted by a gang of black youths. One of them threw a chair at him. The victim continued to walk without looking back. One of the teenagers than ran to him and pushed him.
The same group assaulted someone later that night on Union Street and Kingston Ave., activist Yaacov Behrman tweeted.
The four elected officials representing Boro Park and Flatbush issued a joint letter to Cuomo, calling for him to declare a state of emergency and call in the National Guard.
“Our communities are shaken,” declared Sen. Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and Councilmen Kalman Yeger and Chaim Deutsch. “We have watched our neighbors beaten, stabbed and gunned down. We don’t feel safe in our own homes.”
The four officials asked that the governor appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence, and that the special prosecutor immediately assume control of cases already under the jurisdiction of local district attorneys.
“Simply stated,” they wrote, “it is no longer safe to be identifiably Orthodox in the state of New York. We cannot shop, walk down a street, send our children to school, or even worship in peace.”