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March 31, 2023 2:16 pm

New York City Police Charge Man Accused of Graffitiing Swastikas on Jewish Daycare and Synagogue


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

34-year old Antoine Blount, who is accused of graffitiing swastikas on two Jewish institutions and an apartment building. Photo: NYPD Crime Stoppers.

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) charged a man with a slew of hate crime charges on Wednesday after he allegedly painted swastikas on a synagogue, the office of a Jewish daycare, and an apartment building across several neighborhoods in the Queens borough.

The Queens County District Attorney said on Wednesday that thirty-four year old Antoine Blount committed the spree of offenses between March 22-23. He is charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal mischief as a hate crime.

“Cowardly acts of hate, especially in front of a house of worship, have no place in our diverse borough and won’t be tolerated,” Katz added. “We have charged the defendant with hate crimes for these antisemitic attacks.”

Blount targeted the Reform Temple of Forest Hills and an apartment building in the same neighborhood, as well as Sholom Day Care in Kew Gardens. He also, in two unrelated incidents, assaulted two men at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and 102nd Street. He faces a total of ten counts of criminal charges and is scheduled to again appear in court on May 8.

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According to StopAntisemitism, a nonprofit organization, the NYPD is also seeking information leading to the arrest of two men suspected of graffitiing, in red paint, what multiple reports have described as “antisemitic symbols” on a window of a building in the Civic Center in Lower Manhattan. The suspects were described as light complexioned and wearing dark clothing.

Both sets of incidents took place during a surge of antisemitic hate crimes across the US. According to new data by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in 2022, they occurred at the highest numbers recorded since the group began tracking them in 1979.

Jewish institutions and synagogue were targeted in 589 incidents, including a hostage situation at synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, and 91 bomb threats, the most recorded since 2017. Four hundred-and-ninety-four incidents took place on K-12 campuses, and two-hundred-and-nineteen took place at colleges and universities, an increase of 41 percent from the previous year.

New York and New Jersey combined for nearly 1,000 antisemitic incidents in 2022, seeing the first and third most in all 50 states. New York led the nation with 580 incidents, a 34 percent change from 2019, when there were 430. Other data complied by Americans Against Antisemitism, a US based group founded in 2019, shows that Hasidic and Orthodox Jews in New York City are overwhelmingly represented in the area’s hate crime statistics, being targeted in 94 percent of all reported.

“We’re deeply disturbed by this dramatic and completely unacceptable surge in antisemitic incidents,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said on March 23 in a statement addressing the group’s findings. “While we can’t point to any single factor or ideology driving this increase, the surges in organized white supremacist propaganda activity, brazen attacks on Orthodox Jews, a rapid escalation of bomb threats toward Jewish institutions and significant increases of incidents in schools and on college campuses all contributed to the unusually high number.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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