Anti-Semitic Crimes Rose 26% in New York Last Year

QUEENS -
anti-semitism new york
Mayor Bill de Blasio (L) and Police Commissioner Shea  at a press conference on crime statistics at the Police Academy in Queens, Monday. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 26% in 2019 compared with the previous year, accounting for 55% of all hate-crime complaints in New York City.

The 2019 figures were announced Monday at the monthly crime-statistics press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and other NYPD brass, held at the Police Academy in Queens, as New York City and the surrounding area has grappled with a wave of violent anti-Semitic incidents.

There were 234 anti-Semitic hate-crime complaints in 2019, compared with 186 in 2018. Over 70% of the crimes were non-violent, such as the scrawling of graffiti and swastikas. Overall, there were 428 hate-crime complaints in 2019, up 20% from 356 the previous year.

Arrests for anti-Semitic crimes dropped in 2019 from 80 to 70, but rose in Brooklyn from 41 to 49.

Overall index crime, comprising seven major crimes, fell 0.9 percent in 2019, to what the NYPD describes as the “lowest number of index crimes in the modern era.”

Some individual categories rose. Murders were up 7.8%, robbery was up 3.1%, and grand larceny auto rose slightly, “but I think perspective here is important,” said Shea. “All three are coming off all-time lows and are still at incredibly low levels. But any uptick is of concern.”

Shea said that the NYPD will, within the next few months, begin incorporating hate-crime stats into its weekly CompStat reporting.

De Blasio touted the overall low levels of crime combined despite low numbers of arrests, saying, “I’m convinced that precision policing and neighborhood policing together is the winning strategy.”

New York state’s bail reforms kicked in in 2020, and police officials have expressed concerns about their effect on crime.

Chief Mike LiPetri, Chief of Crime Control Strategies, said Monday, “Discretion is such a large part of law enforcement, but our judges have been stripped of their discretion when assigning cash bail to defendants for all misdemeanors and certain felonies.” Shea said, “I do have concerns. I am on record saying those, but I’m pretty confident that the men and women of this department will rise to any challenge.”

Criticisms of the bail reform grew after several people arrested for crimes against Jews and Jewish locations were quickly released without bail and re-offended.

But de Blasio said Monday that 90% of people given bail end up posting, so most offenders are released anyway.

“The whole idea of the bail reform is that someone should not be held in simply because they can’t afford bail, and we all saw plenty of horrifying examples of that.,” said the mayor. “So the bail reform was necessary, but I think there’s been a little bit of amnesia on the fact that the vast majority of people previous to the bail reform were of course making bail and out on the streets awaiting trial, and this is a country where people are considered innocent until proven guilty.”

The mayor said that, ultimately, he believes an important solution is to revamp mental-health protocols. According to the New York Post, the de Blasio administration intervened to have a repeat-offender who had attacked Jews held, rather than be re-released yet again, so that she could be given a mental-health examination.

New York Jewish neighborhoods are on edge following a number of assaults on Jews over Chanukah, as well as the recent deadly attack in Jersey City and a stabbing incident in Monsey. Police patrols have been increased in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Boro Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, which have seen recent attacks. Asked whether the increased patrols will be the new normal or will be pulled back soon, de Blasio replied, “As long as we were dealing with a crisis, that capacity will be applied to address the crisis. Obviously, we all want this crisis to end. We all want to get to the normal we had before. That’s the normal I believe in, where people could in this city, of all cities on the earth, that anybody of any background could walk the streets in peace, anybody of any faith could exhibit the symbols of their faith and peace, and certainly the Jewish community after thousands of years of oppression. I think it would be safe to say this is one of the places in the history of the world the Jewish community found the most refuge, the most support, the most peace. We want to restore that reality 110%.”

rborchardt@hamodia.com