The NYPD is investigating a hate crime incident in Rego Park after anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered at a Jewish house of worship Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 17.
Investigators from the 112th Precinct and the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Unit are viewing surveillance video of a suspect scrawling a swastika on a private property sign on the steps of the Rego Park Jewish Center, located at 97-30 Queens Boulevard.
NYPD Captain Joseph Cappelman, the commanding officer of the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills called the incident a “absolutely disgusting, cowardly act.” The neighborhood is home to many elderly that suffered the atrocities of the Holocaust and other who lived under the persecution of the KGB in the former Soviet Union.
Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist with the investigation to “ensure the person responsible is held accountable” to the fullest extent of the law.
“I am disgusted by the swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti that were found outside of the Rego Park Jewish Center in Queens, a place where many members of the Jewish community come to feel safe and at home,” Cuomo said. “This hateful act is the work of a coward who only seeks to instill fear in our communities, and it will not be tolerated.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng joined state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz in condemning the anti-Semitic act of vandalism.
“There is absolutely no room for this kind of hatred in our community,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We have consulted with the NYPD, and are confident that the perpetrator behind this cowardly offense will be found, and will face justice.”
The elected officials thanked Captain Cappelman and the officers of the 112th Precinct for their prompt investigation and swift action to address the bias incident.
“The neighborhood has been scarred by hate before and this pattern must end immediately,” City Council candidate Avi Cyperstein said. “Nobody should have to experience or witness anti-Semitic marks anywhere in the world, especially in the most diverse borough of New York City, Queens,”
Cyperstein added that Rego Park and neighboring Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, all part of District 29, have sizable Orthodox Jewish communities where many residents’ families have bared witness to the “unspeakable deplorable acts” of Nazi Germany.
“There is no room for hate of any kind in our community against any religion or group,” Cyperstein said. “We must stand in unity in the face of adversity.”
The incident is another example of the rise of bias crimes across the borough. It occurred one day after a man shoved a 52-year-old woman outside a bakery near the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street in Flushing.
The victim needed 10 stitches in her forehead after striking a metal newspaper box among the sidewalk. She was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens in stable condition. The NYPD is investigating the attack.
“These disgusting acts of anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate were reprehensible, and those who committed them should be held accountable to the fullest extent possible,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Racism and anti-Semitism are never acceptable, especially in the World’s Borough where we take pride in our great diversity. The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force, the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes and the New York City Commission on Human Rights must continue to undertake a coordinated approach on these issues, and my office is ready to lean in and partner with our colleagues in city government on this effort. Queens residents should also be vigilant in reporting and speaking out against such acts of hatred and in showing support for our neighbors when they are attacked. None of us should ever be made to feel unsafe or unwelcome in our own community.”