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NYC: 7 Fires At Jewish Synagogues And Schools, Anti-Semitic Graffiti At Another Synagogue

November 7, 2018

Disturbing news out of New York City this past week as a local man was arrested and charged with hate crimes.

 

James Polite, 26, according to police, has been arrested following his defacing of the Union Temple with anti-Semitic graffiti, and the setting of fires at several other locations in Brooklyn.

 

At the Union Temple on Thursday night, graffiti that included "Hitler," "Jews better be ready," and "Die Jew rats we are here," was found written across four floors of the Union Temple in Brooklyn.

 

Within hours of the graffiti being written, fires were set at seven locations in the area, some synagogues and some Jewish schools. At the Yeshiva school on Hewes Street, a fire was set in the coat closet.

 

Polite is facing several charges, including fourth-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime and second-degree aggravated harassment as a hate crime.

Sometime between 2 and 2:30am, a janitor at the Yeshiva school noticed the fire, and called emergency personnel.

 

NYPD Sergeant Lee Jones told reporters that Polite was apprehended at the scene of the Yeshiva Temple fire. He was then taken to Woodhull Hospital for psychological testing.

 

After being apprehended at the scene of the fire, police were able to determine that Polite was the same person who wrote anti-Semitic graffiti at the Union Temple.

 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, after attending Shabbat services at the temple on Friday, told journalists that Polite's actions were "particularly painful for members of the Jewish community who feel very vulnerable right now, who feel under attack." de Blasio said.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was directing the state's hate crime unit to investigate.


"The disgusting rhetoric and heinous violence in this nation has reached a fever pitch and is ripping at the fabric of America, and it must stop," Cuomo said. "In New York, we have forged community through chords of commonality and we will always stand together against hate and discrimination."

 

According to reports, Polite was at Woodhull Hospital throughout the weekend for psychological evaluation. He was still there Monday morning. A spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office stated that a court date had not been set yet.

 

Polite had an internship with Christine Quinn when she was serving on the New York City Council. Quinn tweeted that she and others have tried to help him as he went through the foster care and mental health systems and he dealt with homelessness.

 

"The actions he is accused of break my heart and devastate all of us who tried to help him get on solid footing over the years. And while he has experienced hardship that most people can't ever imagine, his actions are inexcusable," she wrote.


The New York Times, while covering Polite, reported that he worked for Quinn on initiatives to fight hate crimes, domestic violence and sexual assault.

 

Polite's actions come less than two weeks after 11 worshipers at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh were killed by a gunman shouting anti-Semitic remarks. A recent report found that anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose 57% in 2017 versus 2016.

 

Based on reports, it seems that Polite has some serious mental health issues. Hopefully he can be given the psychological care that he needs. And hopefully New York's Jewish community can move on from these attacks on their synagogues and schools. At least no one was physically harmed by Polite's actions.

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