The 90th Precinct squats in a faded tan building on Union Avenue in Brooklyn. There are dirty windows and protruding air conditioners. During Chanukah, a testament to its presence in one of the densest Jewish neighborhoods in the city, the Williamsburg police precinct puts up a large menorah.
The 90th was also the precinct at the center of multiple hate crime attacks on Jews caught on tape.
But the overall winner for the highest number of hate crime complaints was the 71st Precinct with 18 complaints. Of those, 14 were labeled as “anti-Jewish”, another as anti-White, another as anti-gay and two as ambiguous. All but one of the suspects arrested in the attacks in the 71st were black men.
The 71st is located in Crown Heights while the 90th is based out of Williamsburg. Both have some of the largest populations of Chassidic Jews, who dress distinctively and are easily identifiable, in the country.
They’re also at the center of a disturbing rise in hate crimes in New York City.
“I want to be very, very clear, the violent threat, the threat that is ideological is very much from the right,” Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted, in response to numbers showing a 90% rise in anti-Semitic incidents, while denying that anti-Semitism exists on the Left.
In Williamsburg and Crown Heights, populations of Orthodox Jews intersect with African-American and Latino populations, and a new wave of hipsters. All three groups live uncomfortably with each other. None of them host the “white supremacist” movement that De Blasio was blaming for the problem.
The two non-Orthodox groups in Williamsburg and Crown Heights are strongly identified with the Left.
Mayor Bill de Blasio may be under the impression that because Trump won precincts in Williamsburg, the area is a right-wing hub, but the 6 of 8 districts that he won are made up of Chassidic Jews.
As the media noted after the election, “Nearly every election district that Trump won in Brooklyn was in a Jewish neighborhood.”
They’re about the only Trump supporters in the area. And they’re the victims of the violence.
The highest numbers of hate crimes in 2018 took place in the 71st precinct with 18, the 18th with 16, the 24th with 15, the 66th with 14, the 60th with 12, the 6th with 11, and the 90th with 10.
Jews were the single largest group targeted in the 18th, Midtown Manhattan, with 5 incidents, the 24th, the Upper West Side, with 12 incidents, the 66th, Borough Park, with 14 incidents, the 60th, Coney Island and Brighton Beach, with 10, the 6th, Greenwich Village, with 5, and the 90th with 8.
Many of these neighborhoods are heavily associated with Jews, but even in Greenwich Village, the home of Stonewall and the gay rights movement, there were more anti-Semitic incidents than anti-gay ones.
None of them are ideal platforms for a white supremacist movement.
In Borough Park, Trump won 69% of the vote. A New York Times reporter was unable to find a single Hillary voter. And that’s as close as the area gets to any kind of right-wing movement.
Who’s actually carrying out these attacks?
“Forty of the alleged perpetrators were white, 25 were black, two were Hispanic and two were Asian,” the JTA claimed last year.
The arrests however represent barely a third of the actual incidents. And the NYPD frequently classifies Hispanic suspects as white. The NYPD’s statistics also list multiple arrests of the same person.
The first quarter hate crimes report shows that six 28-year-old males were arrested for anti-Semitic hate crimes at the 94th Precinct in Greenpoint.
That would be statistically unlikely.
28-year-old Glenn Murto was arrested and charged with 7 hate crimes for spray painting a whole bunch of Nazi graffiti around the area. Murto, not exactly a genius, confined the vandalism to most of the same places. Two cops were waiting when he next began spraying swastikas.
Age is the only useful metric for identifying a repeat offender. And unless there’s a rash of incidents and arrests, it can be very hard to know whether a suspect of the same age is also the same person.
Back in the 90th, four white men and three black men were arrested in anti-Semitic incidents. The white people in Williamsburg are mostly Orthodox Jews and hipsters with a sprinkling of old area holdovers.
In the 66th, 3 black men, 2 white and Hispanic males, and 2 Asians were arrested.
Asians are not known for engaging in anti-Semitic hate crimes. But Borough Park has large Chinese, Bangladeshi and Uzbekistani populations. It seems likelier that the perpetrators may have spoken Bengali or Uzbek than Fujianese. Muslims would have more of an anti-Semitic motive than Buddhists.
Meanwhile in the first quarter of 2019, the 71st has seen four anti-Semitic hate crime complaints and the arrests of 4 black men.
In the 112th and the 114th, three Asian teens were arrested in anti-Semitic incidents. Both precincts are located in Queens. The borough has the highest percentage of Muslims anywhere in the city.
But that’s speculation.
Compstat statistics leave plenty of room for ambiguity. What is reasonably clear though is that the rash of cases, especially the violent assaults, are not about white supremacy. Neo-Nazis in New York City usually limit themselves to some heavy blogging and social media trolling or light vandalism.
One of the fundamental problems with hate crime statistics is that they fail to distinguish between actual violent incidents, vandalism and more nebulous problems like bias intimidation.
The violent assaults on a number of Orthodox men in Williamsburg and Crown Heights are classed together with swastikas drawn on a playground. But it’s much easier to establish that graffiti has a bias motive, because of the physical evidence, than that a violent assault was a hate crime.
Last fall, a Jewish teen walking home from his Yeshiva in Queens was violently assaulted by a gang of teens shouting, “Kill the Jew” outside Masbia, a soup kitchen run by a Jewish religious organization. Even though the teen was hospitalized, the police claimed that there was insufficient evidence for hate crimes charges. But swastika graffiti in Queens this year was treated as a hate crime.
The paradox of hate crime charges is that they’re often useless for dealing with serious problems, like physical violence and arson, but come in handy when dealing with nuisance offenses like graffiti.
New York City’s presentation of statistics blur the line, but it’s clear that Mayor Bill de Blasio is wrong.
“I want to be very, very clear, the violent threat, the threat that is ideological is very much from the right,” he insisted at a press conference.
New York City does not have very much of a Right. That doesn’t mean the violence comes from the Left.
The Left is just very good at covering it up.
In response to the rash of anti-Semitic attacks, Martha Ackelsberg and Arielle Korman, two members of Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), an anti-Israel and anti-Jewish group, wrote an editorial, claiming that, “policing cannot solve our problems” denounced “zero tolerance policies” and “armed guards”, while urging “education” and “restrorative justice, counselling and peer support.”
JFREJ’s site features a petition that doubles down on the left-wing group’s call for the decriminalization of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews by urging “transformative justice processes that focus on challenging and transforming the perspectives of people who do harm in our neighborhoods”.
Despite its false claims otherwise, JFREJ is well aware that the perpetrators of anti-Semitism in New York City aren’t white nationalists or Trump supporters.
JFREJ knows that better than anyone after the black foster son of one of its members set 7 fires inside synagogues and Jewish schools in Brooklyn, while scrawling, “Jew Better Be Ready” and “Kill All Jews”.
The Left isn’t behind the anti-Semitic violence in New York City. But it’s covering for those who are.