By Gina Martinez
Elected officials and religious and community leaders gathered at the Samuel Field Y in Little Neck for a rally last Friday condemning the rising number of anti-Semitic attacks in New York City and all forms of discrimination.
The rally, led by Councilmen Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), was a response to the 55 percent spike in hate crimes in the city compared to this time last year. NYPD officials attributed the jump to a 94 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in particular.
The rally called for increased funding to the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force to crack down on hate crimes.
“The continuing rise of anti-Semitic attacks and hate crimes bthroughout our city and country is despicable and unacceptable,” Vallone said. “Today we stand with religious, community and political leaders from every community. This is the true strength of our city and this how we will stand united against hate and discrimination in every form and against any group.”
Vallone said the elected officials want to provide the resources and funding needed by the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force and were asking the mayor to allocate more funds in the next fiscal year city budget.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing), Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Assemblyman David Weprin (D- Hollis) were also at the rally.
Multiple religious leaders from the area attended as well, including Queens Jewish Community Council President Michael Nussbaum, Rabbi Yossi of the Chabad Lubavitch of Northeast Queens, Rabbi Eli Shifrin from Temple Torah of Little Neck, and Monsignor Martin Geraghty of St. Robert Bellarmine in Bayside Hills.
Since the beginning of 2017 at least 91 Jewish organizations across the country, including schools and Jewish community centers, have been the target of 116 bomb threats, 15 of which were made against Jewish locations in New York state.
“There has been a surge of hate crimes and anti-Semitic attacks across our country over the last few months,” Grodenchik said. “We have seen a disturbing rise of anti-Semitism in our own city. We need to make it clear that New York City will stand together to combat hate, violence, and discrimination of any kind.”
He added, “Queens is the most diverse place in the world with over half of the residents being immigrants. We embrace and cherish our diversity. An attack on one group is an attack against us all and I will fight every day to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart