Suspected hate crimes against Jewish and Muslim people have increased in New York City following unrest overseas this summer, but the attacks are random and not from any organized group, police officials said Wednesday.
Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, who heads the special victims division, said there’s been an increase since July 1, when reports about the unrest in Gaza and the Islamic State group became front-page news.
Before July 1, reports of the crimes were down. Since then, there have been about 18 reports of anti-Semitic crimes per month. So far this year there have been 89 suspected hate crime attacks, up from 64 last year. There have been 17 reported attacks against Muslims, up from seven last year. Fourteen of the attacks on Muslims occurred after July 1.
Osgood said at a briefing ahead of Rosh Hashanah that the sustained media attention on Gaza creates “an emotional surge” in New York.
“Two things occur: A person who would normally not offend now offends, he’s moved by the emotion. And the person who normally does not report, now reports,” Osgood said.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said the authorities were watching very closely. He said it was important to note that the crimes are not an organized effort to strike a particular religious group or race.
Police stepped up security in Times Square on Wednesday, both because of Rosh Hashanah and the arrival of international dignitaries at the United Nations General Assembly.
The extra security “is something we’d normally do at this time of year anyway,” Bratton said.
The NYPD’s top counterterrorism official, John Miller, said authorities hadn’t authenticated a recent internet posting — purportedly authored by the Islamic State — that urged “lone wolf” terrorists to attack Times Square.
Councilman David Greenfield announced a press conference about the finding in front of City Hall at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. Attending will be council members Mark Levine, Mark Treyger, Steve Levin, Corey Johnson, Jumaane Williams and Vanessa Gibson.