De Blasio Meets With Jewish Leaders After Arrest in Gang Assault of Jewish Man in Times Square

Jewish leaders at a press conference after meeting with the mayor and city leaders. L-R: Mr. Chaskel Bennett, Rabbi Moishe Indig, Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Rabbi Yeruchim Silber and Mr. Sol Werdiger. (Hamodia Photos)
Photos of suspects in the attack on a Jewish man in Times Square. (NYPD)

A Jewish man was assaulted by a gang in front of 1604 Broadway in Times Square on Thursday evening, May 20. On Friday, May 21, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force announced that 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh was arrested for using a crutch to assault the Jewish man. Awawdeh has been charged with assault as a hate crime in the 2nd degree, gang assault as a hate crime in the 2nd degree, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon, the crutch used in the assault.

Friday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “There’s no excuse for violence against someone because of who they are. None. We will bring the perpetrators of this vicious act of hate to justice.”

The mayor said, “We’re the proud home of one of the largest Jewish communities in the world and an attack on that community is an attack on our city. We will confront anti-Semitism in all its forms.

“The anti-Semitism were seeing across our country isn’t in isolation and isn’t just a few incidents. It’s part of a horrible and consistent pattern. History teaches us we ignore that pattern at our own peril. We have to stand up to it. We have to call it out.”

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudah’s executive vice president, and Mr. Shlomo Werdiger, chairman of Agudah’s board of trustees, reached out to Mayor Bill de Blasio to request an urgent meeting to address this critical matter. Mr. de Blasio responded immediately and convened an emergency meeting of Jewish leaders at New York City Hall.

Meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chief of the New York Police Department Rodney Harrison. (L to R): Rabbi Moshe Indig, Satmar Community of Williamsburg; Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, NY Director of Government Relations, Agudath Israel of America; Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman, Executive Director, United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg; Mr. Chaskel Bennett, Member of the Board of Trustees, Agudath Israel of America; Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President, Agudath Israel of America; and Mr. Shlomo Werdiger, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Agudath Israel of America (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

On Friday afternoon, Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison and other City leaders met with leaders of our Jewish community at City Hall to discuss the recent spate of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City.

“Horrible and consistent pattern. We take it seriously because if we don’t, it’s at all of our peril,” said the Mayor. “I don’t see this in isolation, and it’s not just one incident. People’s fears and concerns are well placed, and we have to respond in kind.”

NYPD Chief of Department Harrison provided an overview of the police response. House of Worship vehicle patrols will be scaled up with auxiliary officers stationed at synagogues across the city. NYPD will identify locations through precincts and reassign officers from precincts that don’t have Jewish institutions. Attendees offered to help NYPD identify biggest targets.

The mayor was thankful for their support. “We’ll take next steps and check in with you to make sure the community feels supported. We have succeeded before together and we will succeed again. Keep talking, keep adjusting, show people what we’re up to.”

Mr. De Blasio assured the Jewish leaders that the attacks will be addressed forcefully, that arrests have been made and that more arrests are forthcoming.

Chaskel Bennett of Agudath Israel speaking to mayor de Blasio during the meeting at City Hall. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


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