State Police is helping local law enforcement investigate after vandals scrawled dozens of swastikas and other anti-Semitic symbols at two schoolyards.
The first incident was discovered Friday, when police found anti-Semitic symbols and slogans at the yard of P.S. 139 in Rego Park, Queens. The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force arrived at the scene and is considering it a possible hate crime.
On Sunday, swastikas were discovered painted at Brighton Playground in Brighton Beach. It comes as anti-Semitic acts are on the rise in the city, though the vast majority of them are tied to a single person and are limited to hate graffiti.
Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents the area and is the chairman of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, demanded that the mayor open a hate crime prevention office to be more on top of this.
“If it seems like every morning you’re waking up to news of another hate crime in New York City, well, that’s actually accurate,” Deutsch said in a statement. “In the 56 days since 2019 started, there have been at least 62 reported hate crimes. That’s a 55 percent increase as compared to this time last year. … It’s clear that the time for talking has passed. We need decisive action, and we need it now.”
Deutsch said that he and two colleagues sponsored a package of bills that passed the City Council last month to create a new mayoral office of Hate Crime Prevention. The office would be responsible for conducting outreach and education throughout the city about the impact of hatred and anti-Semitism.
“This needs to be implemented quickly,” he said on Monday, “and I call upon the mayor to make it his top priority.”