New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered New York State Police to launch an investigation into who tagged the tennis court and play area of a Queens school with dozens of swastikas and anti-Semitic language, which were discovered by the school custodian earlier this week.
CBS 2 says that the hateful messages were found outside PS 139 in Rego Park drawn in chalk. Police confirm that graffiti involving anti-Semitic messages are on the rise with 36 instances this year so far in comparison to 21 in all of last year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says that all hate crimes in the city are sadly on the rise.
“There’s no question there is a huge uptick in real hate crime of all types. In this city we’ve seen it in a horrible manner, particularly lately anti-Semitic hate crimes.”
In addition to the New York State Police, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating this current event that has the surrounding community saddened.
The Daily Beast quoted Gov. Cuomo, who stated that New York has a “zero tolerance” for acts of hate and anti-Semitism, and the depiction of rows of swastikas along with the (misspelled) words “Hail Hitler” is disheartening.
“I am appalled and disgusted by the Swastikas and other anti-Semitic symbols of hate that were scrawled in a Queens schoolyard.”
But Haaretz says that anti-Semitic vandalism and hate speech is becoming more mainstream in New York City and some of it has involved violence. The city’s Hate Crimes Task Force says that they’ve seen a 23 percent increase in crimes with hate speech toward Jews ranging from the defacement of buildings to assaults.
Yaacov Behrman, a Jewish community activist in Crown Heights, says that the events are getting more frightening.
“There have always been incidents, but never clustered like this. There is no question whatsoever that incidents are on the rise.”
Behrman says that it’s difficult for police to prove that some of the assaults are hate crimes as they are generally just considered violent offenses. But he says the community is concerned that there are repeat offenders who only seem to commit violent crimes against Jews, and this should be considered when charging them.
Borough Park native Alexander Rapaport, who runs the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network in Brooklyn and Queens, says he has lost count of the times he has been verbally abused or berated by people using anti-Semitic language. He says that he is regularly harassed and spat at just on his trip to and from work due to his beard and kippa, but is hopeful that authorities are starting to listen.