The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC: A qualitative explanatory analysi

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The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

July 2022

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC: A qualitative explanatory analysis Israel B. Bitton and Melissa L. Steinberg

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The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. KEY FINDINGS 3 2. INTRODUCTION 4 3. DATA & METHODOLOGY

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4. FINDINGS 6-7 5. DISCUSSION 8 6. CASE STUDIES 9-17

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The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


1. KEY FINDINGS

• Jews not only account for the majority of hate crime victims in NYC (by volume and per capita) but Jews are also attacked on average in more than 70% of police precincts—twice the rate of the next most targeted group.

• Contrary to common perception, in NYC, the vast majority of perpetrators of anti-Jewish hate crimes are members of other minority groups, not white supremacists.

• Since 2018, of 118 potentially trackable individuals arrested for anti-Jewish hate crimes, AAA positively identified 84, of which only 1 has been convicted and sentenced to a significant prison term; 15 accepted plea deals that do not appear to involve any prison time; 23 have had hate crime charges removed or criminal charges dropped altogether; 22 are still “pending”; and 23 remain unknown, having totally disappeared from criminal court records.

• When it comes to anti-Jewish hate crimes in NYC, numerous case studies presented herein demonstrate that there are practically no serious consequences to be had or severe punishments to be faced by very violent and hateful criminals who’ve caused significant physical, emotional, and psychological harm to their victims.

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The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™


2. INTRODUCTION

The Hate Crime

It’s well known that Jews account for nearly 60% of hate crime victims targeted because of

Accountability Project™

religion1 despite constituting less than 2% of the American population.2 The FBI and the ADL release data on the number of anti-Jewish incidents each year.3 What no single NGO or government agency is consistently tracking and what remains entirely unknown to the general public are the statuses of hate crime prosecutions—an abject failure on the part of those tasked with tracking and combating anti-Jewish hate crimes, for what good is it to track incidents but not the arrests and prosecutions to ensure there are consequences? Focusing on the NYPD’s hate crime data, this study fills that crucial gap by identifying those persons arrested for anti-Jewish hate crimes between 2018–2021 and tracking their progress, or lack thereof, through New York City’s criminal justice system. In so doing, we have been able to determine the state of anti-Jewish hate crime prosecutions for the majority of persons arrested and listed in the NYPD’s annual reports. The results do not reflect well on the city’s district attorneys. Since 2018, only 1 person arrested for antiJewish hate crimes has been convicted and sentenced to significant prison time.4 The vast majority of those identified have simply fallen off the radar, had their charges dropped, or had the aggravated hate crime charge removed. Furthermore, although the COVID pandemic has caused backlogs in courts across the country, New York City had already exhibited unacceptable prosecution timetables well before the pandemic struck, raising several questions as to the constitutionality of unnecessarily delaying cases—especially considering most cases are straightforward assaults, often times documented on camera. To that end, this study presents 18 highly

May 2022: A young Black male runs up behind a Hasidic man walking with his two young children in hand and randomly knocks him on the back of the head in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

problematic cases of people arrested for anti-Jewish hate crimes who have not been appropriately prosecuted. 1. AJC, “AJC Deeply Troubled By FBI Hate Crimes Data Showing Overall Increase, Jews Most-Targeted Religious Group,” August 31, 2021; and Ben Samuels, “Jews Most Targeted Religious Group in 2020 Hate Crimes in the U.S., FBI Says,” August 31, 2021, Haaretz. 2. Pew Research Center, “Jewish Americans in 2020,” May 11, 2021. 3. FBI, “Hate Crime Statistics,” https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/publications#Hate-Crime%20Statistics; and ADL, “Tracker of Antisemitic Incidents,” https:// www.adl.org/resources/tools-to-track-hate/antisemitic-incidents, accessed July 13, 2022. 4. NBC New York, “Brooklyn Man Gets 11 Years Sentence for Strangling Jewish Man in 2018 Attack,” December 14, 2021.

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The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


3. DATA & METHODOLOGY

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

Like any crime, most hate crimes go unreported. Of the incidents reported to police, many, if not most, go unreported by the media and are thus unknown to the general public. High profile attacks, or those caught on camera, tend be reported and documented. Presently, the ADL tracks antisemitic incidents by linking to credible news reports. The issue is that the ADL doesn’t seem to use the data it collects to track the full lifecycle of a hate criminal, as it has never released a single report on the state of hate crime prosecutions—not in New York City nor any other jurisdiction. News reports are important in the process of identifying hate criminals since the police, as a matter of policy, do not release the name of every single person arrested for a hate crime (they do so from time to time, especially when searching for a suspect on the lam), and without a name for an arrested person there’s no way to track whether he or she will actually face legal consequences. Although not all news reports identify the arrested persons by name, they usually offer the best shot at learning the identities of criminals and tracking them. At Americans Against Antisemitism, we set out to address this major and most crucial gap in two ways. First, we began a systematic search for, and collection of, all relevant hate crime reports going back to 2018 so that we could get a clearer understanding of the state of hate crime prosecutions in New York City by finding the names of those who’d been arrested. Second, we started developing a data tool that uses machine learning to find relevant news reports, turn them into trackable cases, and connect with the WebCrims court system to automatically update each case with the prosecution status—in other words, with this tool, no longer will we have to try and fill in the missing gaps of the past, but moving forward we are able to actively track the full pipeline from hate crime to prosecution, or lack thereof.

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May 2019: A young Black male, seemingly school-aged, winds up and throws a punch from behind an unsuspecting Hasidic man in Brooklyn, hitting him hard in the head and knocking his hat and yarmulke off.

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


4. FINDINGS

The

NYPD

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

data

on

hate

Figure 1.

crime

Total Number of Hate Crime Incidents and Percentage of (77) Police Precincts with Attacks Reported, 2017–2021

incidents (Figure 1) shows how not only are Jews the most targeted group by volume and

(Source: NYPD, “Hate Crimes Reports”)

250

77%

per capita, but they are targeted, on average, in double the number of police precincts than

69%

200

68%

the next most targeted group.5 In other words, Jews are attacked the most and in the most

150

70%

places around the city despite being no larger a minority population than any other targeted

57% 55% 100

group. The NYPD data on hate crime arrests (Figure 2) shows how, unlike in the national hate crime statistics,6 the majority of anti-Jewish

50

0

38%

35%

33%

35%

2017

2018

2019

2020

attacks in New York City are committed by

Anti-Jewish

other minorities7—a fact that is routinely downplayed or ignored because it proves too inconvenient and hot for politicians to handle.

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Next Most Targeted Group Figure 2.

Total Number of Arrested Individuals for Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes vs. the Proportion of Minority Perpetrators, 2017–2021 (Source: NYPD, “Hate Crimes Reports”)

38 5. NYPD, “Complaints by Bias Motivation, Annual 2017– 2021,” Hate Crimes Reports, https://www1.nyc.gov/site/ nypd/stats/reports-analysis/hate-crimes.page, accessed July 13, 2022. 6. Americans Against Antisemitism has not yet studied the reporting and prosecution of hate crimes at the national level, but is aware that issues uncovered in the NYPD’s non-collection, reporting, and manipulation of hate crime data are likely present in the FBI’s hate crime data as well. Advocates for hate crime victims have already pointed to some inconsistencies in the FBI data, which Americans Against Antisemitism will study in future reports. For now, multiple publications have pointed out areas of potential concern with the FBI data. See, for example, Hannah Allam, “FBI Report: Bias-Motivated Killings at Record High Amid Nationwide Rise in Hate Crime,” November 16, 2020, NPR; Josiah Bates, “Why the FBI Won’t Release Quarterly Crime Stats for 2021,” March 25, 2022, Time; and Kai Wiggins, “Growing Pains for Hate Crime Statistics,” October 19, 2021, N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol’y Quorum. 7. NYPD, “Arrests by Bias Motivation, Annual 2017–2021,” Hate Crimes Reports, https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/ stats/reports-analysis/hate-crimes.page, accessed July 13, 2022.

2021

36

36

23 19

15

24

25

14

30

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Total Arrests

Minority Perpetrators

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


4. FINDINGS

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

Figure 3.

NYPD Total Trackable Persons Arrested for Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes vs. AAA Total Persons Identified for Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes + Prosecution Outcomes (Source: NYPD, “Hate Crimes Reports”/NYS WebCrims)

37

36 0 Conviction

28

5 Dropped

0 Conviction

10 Dropped 0 Pending

17 0 Conviction

1 Conviction 10 Plea Deal

2 Dropped

4 Pending 7 Unknown

1 Plea Deal

2018

5 Unknown

3 Plea Deal

6 Dropped

3 Pending

12

15 Pending

27

14

2019

2020

Adjusted NYPD total of individuals arrested for anti-Jewish hate crimes

8 Unknown

1 Plea Deal 3 Unknown

Number of arrested individuals identified by AAA

31 2021

Prosecution status of individuals identified by AAA

Using our proprietary tracking tool, we set out to do

By integrating the NYPD data and credible news

the following for each year between 2018–2021:

reports with perpetrator identities and New York

Evaluate the NYPD’s reported total of persons arrested for anti-Jewish hate crimes, and remove obvious or known duplicates;

State’s WebCrims system, we are able to demonstrate

Remove juvenile listings (since their identities are usually obscured and therefore their prosecution outcomes cannot be tracked);

one criminal was convicted for an anti-Jewish hate

Find identities of arrested persons in credible news reports and compare with NYPD data to determine whether the majority of reported cases have been identified; and Track identified persons in WebCrims and compare status and/or outcome.

how, in the majority of trackable cases, prosecution has been effectively nonexistent. Since 2018, only crime and sentenced to a significant prison term (see page 17). Furthermore, it appears that none of the plea deals have involved prison time. The vast majority of trackable cases have either ended up with hate crime charges removed, criminal charges dropped altogether, or have inexplicably disappeared from public view.

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The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


5. DISCUSSION

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

December 2019: Then-Mayor Bill de Blasio and former NYPD Chief Dermot Shea at a press conference following the heinous terrorist attack by two Black Hebrew Israelites against a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey. Throughout his tenure, De Blasio insisted that the greatest threat to Jewish New Yorkers were white supremacists,i a position he was forced to abandon in the face of all available data showing that anti-Jewish hate crimes are largely being perpetrated by other minorities. i. Julia Marsh, “De Blasio Backs Off Claim That Antisemitism is a ‘Right-Wing Movement,’” September 18, 2019, New York Post.

Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez deemed 2019 “a historically safe year in Brooklyn.”8 However, while violent crimes in general may have been down overall in 2019,9 antisemitic hate crimes increased, and became increasingly violent.10 There is little evidence that New York’s political leadership is treating these attacks with the seriousness they deserve,11 which is especially disturbing given that antisemitic criminality in NYC shows no sign of abating.12 In light of the frequency and severity of antisemitic hate crimes in NYC, we have identified several areas of concern that must be addressed by law enforcement and political leadership. First, we need to abandon the excuse that hate crimes are not prosecuted simply because they are too difficult to prove. Second, we need to call out and rectify the “political theater” that allows the hate crime statute to be applied disparately to hate crimes perpetrated by and against different groups. Third, the NYPD and NYC district attorneys and political leadership need to be more transparent about the frequency of hate crimes as well as the rates at which they are investigated and prosecuted, and publish comprehensive data, allowing advocates to better track complaints, arrests, prosecutions, plea deals, and convictions. And fourth, we need to strategize ways to provide constitutionally required speedy trials without sacrificing worthy cases along the way. 8. Kings County District Attorney, “Brooklyn Continued to Record Historic Decline in Violent Crime in 2019,” January 3, 2020, http://www.brooklynda.org/2020/01/03/brooklyn-continued-to-record-historic-decline-inviolent-crime-in-2019/. 9. Ibid. 10. Aiden Pink, “Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Are Becoming More Violent,” November 13, 2019, Forward. 11. Armin Rosen, “Everybody Knows,” July 15, 2019, Tablet. 12. Graham Kates, “New York City Grapples With Sharp Rise in Hate Crimes Targeting Jewish People,” March 10, 2022, CBS News New York.

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6. CASE STUDIES

The Hate Crime

November 2018: Enrique Gerena (see page 12) strikes a Hasidic man from behind while walking the streets of Brooklyn.

Accountability Project™

ON MAY 22, 2018, at approximately 7:00 PM, at the

Proving Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents DA Gonzalez’s lament that hate crimes are often too

intersection of Carroll Street and Albany Avenue in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, a black man in his 20s went on an antisemitic tirade,

difficult to prosecute, due to the need to prove biased

threatening to “kill all the f—king Jews,” while spitting

motive beyond a reasonable doubt,13 rings hollow.

and throwing rocks at identifiably Jewish women

Sometimes evidence of bias motive is “manifest”: for example, suspects screaming racial epithets during the commission of a crime, or admitting during the

and children. The man was arrested, but it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences for his conduct, even though it fits squarely within the hate crime statute.

investigation of a crime that it had a bias motive.14 A suspect’s proclamation of his or her motive is

ON AUGUST 9, 2019, at approximately 7:00 PM,

considered a rarity.15 However, that is not what our

on Carroll Street between Troy and Schenectady

research suggests. Numerous cases in which suspects have vocalized clear antisemitic animus have not been seriously considered for hate crime prosecution. There is no shortage of cases in which the NYPD arrested suspects who voiced clear antisemitic animus either during, or immediately following, attacks on

Avenues in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, Kenya Dean, 39, broke a glass bottle and sprayed a Hasidic Jewish man, 27, with its contents, made antisemitic remarks, and hit a witness with a stick. Dean was arrested, but it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences for his conduct, even though it fits squarely within the hate crime statute.

Jews, but which do not appear to have been pursued as hate crimes. Here are just a few examples. 13. Theresa Riley, “What One NYC Prosecutor Is Doing to Respond to a Hate Crime Surge,” February 24, 2019, Not in Our Town, https://www. niot.org/blog/what-one-nyc-prosecutor-doing-respond-hate-crimesurge/. 14. James B. Jacobs and Kimberly A. Potter, “Hate Crimes: A Critical Perspective,” Crime and Justice 22, 1, (1997). 15. Beth Schwartzapfel, “When Is a Crime a Hate Crime?,” June 19, 2015, The Marshall Project, https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/06/19/ when-is-a-crime-a-hate-crime/. See also Brandon E. Patterson, “Hate Crimes Are Rising But Don’t Expect Them to Be Prosecuted,” November 25, 2016, Mother Jones; and Kiara Alfonseca, “Hate Crimes Are Hard to Prosecute, But Why?,” April 13, 2021, ABC News.

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ON DECEMBER 23, 2019, at approximately 11:40 AM at the intersection of East 41st Street and 3rd Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, Steven Jorge, 28, punched a Jewish man, 65, and when the man fell to the ground, kicked him repeatedly while yelling “F—k you, Jew! You f—king guy, you f—cking Jews, I punched you, you f—king k—e!” Jorge was arrested, but it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences for his conduct, even though it fits squarely within the hate crime statute.

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


6. CASE STUDIES

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

ON DECEMBER 26, 2019, at approximately 3:20 PM in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn, Ayana Logan, 42, attacked an identifiably Jewish woman, 35, in front of her child, using her bag to hit the woman in the face while shouting “You f—king Jew, your end is coming!” Logan was arrested, but it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences for her conduct, even though it fits squarely within the hate crime statute.

ON OCTOBER 21, 2021, at approximately 5:15 p.m., at the intersection of Rutland Road and East 46th Street in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, a Hispanic man, approximately 30 years old, approached a Hasidic Jewish woman, spit on her, and yelled antisemitic slurs, including “Hitler should have killed you when he had the chance.” The man was arrested at the scene, but it does not appear that there

ON MAY 10, 2020, at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Ross Street in the South Williamsburg

were any judicial consequences for his conduct, even though it fits squarely within the hate crime statute.

neighborhood of Brooklyn, Paulo and Clelia Pinho, 35 and 46 respectively, verbally harassed a group of Jewish people with antisemitic slurs. They were arrested, but it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences for their conduct, even though it

ON AUGUST 16, 2021, at the intersection of 18th and

fits squarely within the hate crime statute.

McDonald Avenues in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn, a person verbally harassed two identifiably Jewish boys with antisemitic slurs while chasing them with a screwdriver. The culprit was arrested, but it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences

ON OCTOBER 13, 2020, Jose Cruz, 32, verbally

for this conduct, even though it fits squarely within the

harassed a Hasidic Jewish man in Brooklyn, and made

hate crime statute.

antisemitic comments during a subsequent media interview that indicated that he purposely targeted his victim. Cruz was arrested, but it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences for his conduct, even though it fits squarely within the hate crime

ON MAY 24, 2021, at the intersection of East 27th Street

statute.crime statute.

and Avenue S in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, a black man, 20, attempted to forcibly enter a synagogue, and punched and assaulted a security guard and bystander, all while shouting antisemitic slurs. The man was arrested, but it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences for his conduct, even though it fits squarely within the hate crime statute.

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The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


6. CASE STUDIES

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

Even without “manifest” evidence of bias, New York’s hate crime statute16 is intended to punish not merely “prototypical” bias crimes, but also what have been termed “opportunistic” bias crimes.17 The perpetrator of an antisemitic hate crime may not actually hate Jewish people but, rather, may merely believe that a Jewish person is more likely to carry cash or

CASE STUDY: JONATHAN EDOUARD

expensive items, or be less likely to fight back, or be less

On June 9, 2021, at approximately 1:00 p.m.,

likely to report the incident, or be less likely to be taken

Jonathan Edouard entered Bash Kosher Pizza,

seriously by law enforcement, and the perpetrator’s actions still meet the statutory definition of a hate crime.18 In this

located at Nostrand Avenue and Avenue J in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn.i He screamed and threw tables and chairs at

way, many crimes may be “mixed-motive” crimes, but that

terrified patrons, many of whom barricaded

does not eliminate the hate crime element.19

themselves in the bathroom. As witnesses

Although the NYC DAs have reassured the public that they take hate crimes seriously, there is concern that hate

held him down pending the arrival of NYPD and Flatbush Shomrim, Edouard uttered antisemitic slurs.

crime arrests have been sensationalized for media and

Although then-NYPD Captain Genevieve

public consumption, with a lack of real consequences for

Isom, who was on the scene, promised that

committing hate crimes in NYC.20 Our research has revealed multiple instances in which Jews in New York City were

the NYPD was taking the matter seriously, it does not appear that there were any judicial consequences for Edouard’s behavior. This is

harmed; the conduct causing the harm fits squarely within

despite a prior arrest for an incident on March

the universe of conduct specifically proscribed by the Hate

13, 2021, for which charges of menacing,

Crime Statute; there is surveillance video and/or witness testimony sufficient to investigate and apprehend suspects;

criminal mischief, assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon, and harassment remain pending.

and the crimes are either miscategorized as mere “crimes of

Edouard was also arrested at least one time

opportunity” (despite Jews being consistently singled out for

subsequent to the incident at the pizzeria, with

these crimes), not investigated thoroughly, or arrests were announced in connection with these crimes, but charges were later dropped, or reduced to the point at which no meaningful justice was obtained on behalf of the victims or the People of the State of New York.

charges of criminal contempt and harassment that likewise do not appear to have had judicial consequences for Edouard. i. The Yeshiva World, “WATCH IT: Violent Man Randomly Attacks Kosher Pizza Shop in Flatbush, Punches Man in Head,” June 9, 2021.

16. New York Penal Law § 485.05 17. Lu-In Wang, “Recognizing Opportunistic Bias Crimes,” 80 Boston Univ. Law Review (2000), 1400. 18. Ibid. 19. Veronika Szontagh, “The Chances of Restorative Justice in Hate Crime Cases,” 61 Hungarian J. Legal Studies (2020), 313, 318. 20. Yoav Gonen, et al., “Most Hate Crime Charges in NYC Get Dropped Before Conviction, Stats Show,” March 6, 2022, The City.

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The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


6. CASE STUDIES

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

CASE STUDY: HESHAM GHONIM On May 24, 2021, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Hesham Ghonim, 20, attacked a 67-year-old man who was attempting to enter the Congregation Kerem Shlomo synagogue on East 27th Street in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn. Besides raining blows on his victim, Ghonim shouted: “F–ing Jews! I’m going to f–k you up! I see you Jews are racist.”i Ghonim was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including harassment, menacing, and assault as a hate crime. However, the hate crime element was quietly dropped, and Ghonim pled guilty to assault with intent to cause physical injury on December 2, 2021. i. Tina Moore, “Jewish Man Attacked Outside Brooklyn Synagogue, NYPD Says,” May 25, 2021, New York Post.

CASE STUDY: FRANK ABROKWA

CASE STUDY: ENRIQUE GERENA

On February 21, 2022, Frank Abrokwa, 37, approached a woman,

On November 30, 2018, at approximately 6:40 p.m.,

43, waiting for the subway in the Bronx and pressed a plastic

a Hasidic Jewish man wearing a shtreimel, 33,

bag filled with his own excrement into her face. In the course

was talking to some friends on the street near 68

of investigating this incident, the NYPD realized that Abrokwa

Throop Avenue in the Williamsburg neighborhood of

matched the description of the perpetrator in an incident on

Brooklyn when Enrique Gerena, 32, came up behind

September 9, 2021, at approximately 5:30 PM, in which Abrokwa

him and forcefully punched him in the back of the

spat at Menachem Minkowitz, 46, outside a deli in the Crown

head.i Gerena was arrested and charged with assault

Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, before trying to punch

as a hate crime and harassment, although it does

Minkowitz, while shouting “F—ing Jew, I’m going to kill you!”

not appear that those charges led to a plea deal or

i

If it seems like the NYPD only took the Brooklyn incident seriously after the highly publicized feces-smearing incident, that is a valid complaint. The NYPD took more than two hours

conviction. This was but one incident in a string of antisocial and criminal behavior from Gerena.

to respond to Minkowitz’s complaint, and the Hate Crime Unit

Previously, on May 2, 2018, Gerena was arrested

reportedly showed little urgency in pursuing Minkowitz’s claims.

for attempted grand larceny. It does not appear that

In addition, Abrokwa was arrested at least three times between

that charge led to a plea deal or conviction. Shortly

the Brooklyn and Bronx incidents, including randomly punching

thereafter, on May 21, 2018, Gerena assaulted two

people on January 7 and February 5, 2022, and threatening

paramedics who were attempting to assist him while

workers at a Washington Heights storage facility on March 22,

he was high on drugs. Those charges remain pending.

2022.

Even more troubling is Gerena’s criminal history

Abrokwa has been charged with harassment and menacing,

subsequent to the alleged hate crime. He has been

both as hate crimes, for the assault against Minkowitz in Brooklyn.

arrested at least five times for armed robbery,

None of Abrokwa’s pending charges are bail eligible, meaning he

assault, criminal possession of a weapon, grand

is free to continue attacking people. Meanwhile, Abrokwa has 44

larceny, petit larceny, menacing, and harassment.

prior arrests, including 22 prior unsealed arrests.

Only a harassment charge stemming from an incident on January 13, 2021, in which he hit an elderly man

i. Nicholas Williams et al., “Jewish Man Recalls Hate-Fueled Confrontation With Bronx Feces Attack Suspect,” March 2, 2022, New York Daily News; and Thomas Tracy and Molly Crane-Newman, “Few Rearrested Under NYC’s Supervised Release, but Repeat Offenders Spark Criticism of Program as ‘Russian Roulette,’” April 2, 2022, New York Daily News.

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on a subway platform, appears to be pending against Gerena. i. Tina Moore, “Cops Bust Creep Wanted for Sucker-Punching Hasidic Man in Brooklyn,” December 4, 2018, New York Post.

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


6. CASE STUDIES

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

CASE STUDY: JONATHAN TORRES & VICTOR HIDALGO On November 29, 2018, at approximately 5:00 p.m., “identifiably Jewish” David Paltielov, 16, wearing a kippah and tzitzit, was outside a kosher restaurant in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens when a gang of 20-30 teens attacked him. Approximately 100 students total were present for the attack, many of whom recorded it on their phones. Witnesses heard students yelling “Kill the Jew” and other antisemitic slurs.i Paltielov was hospitalized for more than a week following the attack, suffering from lacerations, swelling, contusions, and memory issues. The NYPD has described Paltielov as an innocent victim caught in the crosshairs of long-simmering tensions between black May 2021: A group of anti-Zionist demonstrators attack Joe Borgen near Times Square in broad daylight as part of an attack spree that claimed multiple Jewish victims and led to a handful of arrests, the outcomes of which are still pending.

and Hispanic students and Russian Jewish students at Forest Hills High School, but has also determined that the attack, while serious, was not a hate crime. However, Paltielov attended a local yeshiva, and reportedly did not know his attackers. The NYPD’s strategy appears to

Political Theater Prosecutors may minimize or downplay a suspect’s bias motive,21 at least in part “to avoid alienating members of the defendant’s community.”22 At the same time, in high profile

be influenced by the idea that the attack was a case of “mistaken identity” – the teens did intend to beat up a Jewish teen, only a different Jewish teen. 12 local students were arrested for the attack, but only Jonathan Torres, 18, and Victor Hidalgo, 17, appear to have been charged. The local Bukharian Jewish community is outraged that the NYPD and DA have

cases that outrage the community, prosecutors

refused to pursue hate crime charges against Torres

may bring hate crime charges as a form of

and Hidalgo. They are instead pending trial on charges

appeasement, even if they know that these charges will not impact the ultimate disposition of the case.23

21. Zachary Evans, “Anti-Semitic Attacks Shine Spotlight on LongSimmering Tri-State Tensions,” January 13, 2020, National Review. 22. Op. cit. Jacobs and Potter, 35. 23. Avlana Eisenberg, “Hate Crime Laws Don’t Work as Their Supporters Intended,” June 22, 2021, The Atlantic.

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of gang assault and assault with intent to cause serious injury, with no hate crime element. i. Mark Hallum, “Forest Hills Jewish Community, NYPD at Odds Over Recent Assault of Local Teenager,” December 7, 2018, QNS. com; Arun Venugopal et al., “No Hate Crime Charges for Teens Who Allegedly Beat Jewish Boy in Queens,” December 6, 2018, Gothamist; and The Scroll, “Arrests But No Hate Crime Charges After Jewish Teen Beaten by Mob in New York City,” December 7, 2018, Tablet.

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


6. CASE STUDIES

CASE STUDY: FARRUKH AFZAL On October 14, 2018, at approximately 7:30 a.m., Lipa Schwartz, 62, was walking down a street in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn when a car suddenly stopped behind him. Livery driver Farrukh Afzal, 37, who had just tried to run over a different Jewish man, exited his vehicle and began chasing Schwartz, wrestling him to the ground in the middle of an intersection and beating him severely. One witness tried to help Schwartz, only to be chased away by a raging Afzal. Other witnesses managed to contain Afzal long enough for the NYPD to arrest him.i The NYPD originally investigated Afzal’s conduct as a hate crime, then determined it was a case of “mistaken identity” – Afzal did intend to beat up a Jewish man, only a different Jewish man. Only after public outcry did the DA change course and pursue hate crime charges against Afzal, who had at least 8 prior arrests. He is now pending trial on numerous charges, including menacing and assault as hate crimes. i. Shari Logan, et al., “Brutal Attack in Middle of Brooklyn Street Caught in Video,” October 14, 2018, New York Post; CBS New York, “NYPD: Brutal Attack on 62-Year-Old Hasidic Man in Borough Park Was Case of Mistaken Identity,” October 14, 2018.

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The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™


6. CASE STUDIES

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

April 2022: A group of Black youths who were caught on camera randomly attacking and beating a Hasidic Jewish man in Brooklyn. i i. ABC News New York, “NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force investigating attack on Brooklyn Man,” April 2, 2022; and ABC News New York, “Teen charged after group attacks Hasidic man in Brooklyn,” April 2, 2022.

Some also posit that NYC has specifically told officers to avoid making arrests for mere “quality-of-life” offenses, and “[t]he precipitous arrest decline might reflect [the NYPD] judging some hate crimes as minor quality-of-life crimes,” even though the criminality is clear, and the suspects may even have been identified by the NYPD. Often, so-called “minor” quality-of-life crimes signal an overall surge in criminal activity. It stands to reason, then, that a surge in so-called “minor” qualityof-life crimes that violate the hate crime statute signals an overall escalation in hate crimes, with a simple

CASE STUDY: JARRICK WILTSHIRE On October 30, 2018, Jarrick Wiltshire, 18, and

explanation: “[d]efaced trains aren’t just ugly, they’re an

Daul Moultrie, 17, painted swastikas and other

invitation.”

antisemitic graffiti on homes in the Brooklyn

24

Under the law, lives matter, not as mere political abstractions,

but

as

beings

entitled

to

certain

fundamental rights and protections based on our shared humanity and the belief that no life is enriched or protected in an environment in which hate crimes and other bias incidents are investigated and prosecuted disparately, on the basis of political expedience.

Heights

neighborhood

of

Brooklyn.i

They

were arrested and charged with aggravated harassment, although it does not appear that these charges resulted in a plea or conviction. Wiltshire has since been arrested at least twice, and his alleged crimes show a troubling pattern of increasingly antisocial behavior: harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, attempted grand larceny, assault, unlawful imprisonment, and kidnapping with intent to collect ransom. However, there do not appear to be any charges currently pending against Wiltshire.

24. New York Post, Editorial Board, “The Warning Behind the Surge in Subway Graffiti,” December 29, 2019.

15

i. Tina Moore, “Teens Busted for Scrawling Swastikas on Brooklyn Buildings,” November 5, 2018, New York Post.

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


6. CASE STUDIES

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

Law Enforcement Transparency Former NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea stated emphatically: “There is zero tolerance in New York City for hate of

CASE STUDY: GLENN MURTO

any kind, whether it’s antisemitic, anti-religion, anti-gender, or any

The

other kind.”25 However, despite the platitudes of politicians and

Brooklyn became the unlikely epicenter

law enforcement, transparency is key to showing that these crimes (and their victims) are taken seriously.

26

The published NYPD hate

Greenpoint

neighborhood

of

of white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ vandalism between January and April 2019.

An

unknown

stickers

prosecution rates, and there is a need for better communication from

containing swastikas and messages

chair of the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus, plans to propose

the

posted

crime data is insufficient to track and analyze complaint, arrest, and city government and law enforcement. To that end, Eric Dinowitz,

around

vandal

neighborhood

including: (1) “Homosexuality is a crime against nature”; (2) “No more white guilt: rise up!”; (3) “We must secure the

legislation that would clarify and expand the NYPD’s obligation to

existence of our people and a future for

publish information about hate crime arrests in NYC, including the

white children”; (4) “Miscegenation is

results of all arrests for hate and bias crimes.27 The victims of antisemitic hate crimes in NYC have further been

and has always been the greatest threat to the survival of the white race”; and (5) “Jews are poisoning our children.”i

casualties of an erroneous narrative that “white nationalism” has

On April 5, 2019, the NYPD arrested

contributed heavily to the recent rise in hate crimes.28 However,

Glenn Murto, 28, and charged him with 7

the situation in New York does not fit such hypothesis: There is surveillance footage and/or photographs of the perpetrators of many

hate crimes for his vandalism campaign. It is unclear if Murto faced any actual consequences for his conduct, as there

of the reported antisemitic hate crimes, and this evidence simply

is no information publicly available

does not support the narrative of a white supremacist crime wave

regarding a plea deal or conviction.

targeting New York Jews. It does, however, comport with the October 2019 finding of NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force head Mark Molinari that

Murto’s conduct should actually be considered a “multi-bias” hate crime, in that it was not merely antisemitic, and

“[n]ot one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an antisemitic

actually primarily targeted black, LGBTQ,

hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group,” as well

and immigrant communities. However,

as the findings of investigative reporter Armin Rosen, who notes that “many of the [anti-Jewish] attacks are being carried out by people of color with no ties to the politics of white supremacy.”29

Murto’s string of hateful vandalism was used to make him the white supremacist poster boy for antisemitism in NYC: NYPD data shows that Murto’s crime was accounted for 8 separate times, making

25. Alison Fox, “Anti-Semitic Incidents Make Up Majority of 67% Jump in Hate Crimes: NYPD,” May 2, 2019, AM New York. 26. Op. cit. Eisenberg. 27. Op. cit. Kates. 28. Op. cit. Fox. See also Julia Marsh, “De Blasio Says Anti-Semitism is Strictly a ‘RightWing Movement,’” July 4, 2019, New York Post. 29. Robert Cherry, “What the Left Doesn’t Want to Mention About New York City Hate Crimes,” November 25, 2019, New York Post.

16

it appear as if a white supremacist cabal was terrorizing Greenpoint, rather than one lone wolf vandal. i. Laura Hanrahan, “Alleged Greenpoint Swastika Vandal Arrested, Charged With Seven Felonies,” May 14, 2019, Brooklyn Post.

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


6. CASE STUDIES

The Hate Crime Accountability Project™

April 2018: James Vincent violently attacks Menachem Moskowitz after the latter said hello. Vincent is the only person who committed an anti-Jewish hate crime since 2018 to have been convicted and sentenced to prison.

Prosecutorial Delays There is a constitutional guarantee to a speedy trial, but New York has long struggled to dispose of cases expediently.30 It is expected that felonies in NY will be resolved within 180 days of indictment, but this benchmark was met in only 35% of NYC’s

CASE STUDY: JAMES VINCENT On April 21, 2018, identifiably Jewish man

disposed felonies in 2019. After 365 days, only 2/3 of cases

Menachem Moskowitz, 52, was walking

were disposed.31

home from religious services when James

Put charitably, NYC’s time from indictment to final resolution puts it among the “less timely” court systems in the country.

Vincent, 40, shouted antisemitic slurs at, choked, and beat him, causing Moskowitz to suffer a black eye and broken rib. Vincent

Notably, felony arrests and court caseloads have both declined

was arrested on April 27, 2018, and on

since 2014, although there has been “no discernible reduction

October 27, 2021, he was found guilty of

in case processing times.”32 In 2019 in NYC, felony cases averaged 316 days (more than 10 months) from indictment to

multiple crimes, including strangulation and assault as hate crimes.i From the date of Vincent’s indictment

disposition. Cases that ultimately go to trial fare the worst, with

until the date his case was finally disposed,

an average time of 557 days (roughly one and a half years) from

1,246 days (three and a half years) elapsed.

indictment to disposition.33 Predictably, beginning in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic further strained NYC’s capacity to bring criminal cases to expedient conclusions: just from February–June 2020, the backlog of pending cases ballooned

Of those days, at least 640 cannot be blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic. i. NBC News New York, “Brooklyn Man Gets 11 Years Sentence for Strangling Jewish Man in 2018 Attack,” December 14, 2021.

by nearly a third to 39,200.34 30. Joanna Weill, et al., “Felony Case Delay in New York City: Lessons from a Pilot Project in Brooklyn,” Center for Court Innovation (2021), 1. 31. Ibid., 2. 32. Ibid. 33. Ibid. 34. Alan Feuer, et al., “NY’s Legal Limbo: Pandemic Creates Backlog of 39,200 Criminal Cases,” June 22, 2020, New York Times.

17

The Prosecution—or Lack Thereof—of Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes in NYC / July 2022


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