New York City increases police presence in Jewish areas amid fear of attacks

Click to play video: '‘We will not accept it’: DeBlasio responds following series of attacks in Jewish communities'
‘We will not accept it’: DeBlasio responds following series of attacks in Jewish communities
WATCH ABOVE: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio responds following series of attacks in Jewish communities – Dec 27, 2019

NEW YORK — New York City is increasing its police presence in some Brooklyn neighbourhoods with large Jewish populations after possibly anti-Semitic attacks during the Hanukkah holiday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said after the latest episode happened Friday.

Besides making officers more visible in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, police will boost visits to houses of worship and some other places, the mayor tweeted.

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“Anti-Semitism is an attack on the values of our city —  and we will confront it head-on,” the Democrat wrote. He went later Friday to Crown Heights and met with some representatives of the local Jewish community.

Around the city, police have gotten at least six reports this week —  and eight since Dec. 13 —  of attacks possibly propelled by anti-Jewish bias.

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“It’s something that’s very alarming, and we treat it very seriously,” police Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said at a news conference Friday.

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The latest incident happened around 12:40 a.m. Friday, when a woman slapped three other women in the face and head after encountering them on a Crown Heights corner, police said. The victims, who range in age from 22 to 31, suffered minor pain, police said.

Tiffany Harris, 30, was arrested on a hate-crime harassment charge.

Her arrest came hours after a hate crime assault arrest in Brooklyn’s Gravesend neighbourhood. There, police said, a woman was hit in the face with a bag by an attacker who made anti-Semitic comments Thursday afternoon. The victim, 34, was with a 3-year-old boy.

The suspect in Thursday’s attack, Ayana Logan, 42, and Harris were both awaiting arraignment Friday. It wasn’t clear whether they had lawyers who could comment on the charges, and no working telephone numbers for the suspects could immediately be found.

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On Monday, a Miami man was charged with hate-crime assault after police said he made an anti-Semitic remark and attacked a man in midtown Manhattan. The 65-year-old victim was punched and kicked, suffering cuts, police said.

He had been wearing a yarmulke, according to former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has founded a group dedicated to combating anti-Semitism.

Steven Jorge, 28, is being held without bail, and a judge ordered a psychiatric exam for him, court records show. A message was left Friday for Jorge’s lawyer.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a state hate crimes task force to help police investigate the attack, calling it “a horrific and cowardly act of anti-Semitism.”

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“It’s even more despicable that it occurred over the holidays,” the Democratic governor said in a statement Wednesday. Hanukkah began Sunday.

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The New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force is also investigating some other episodes this week as possibly motivated by anti-Semitism:

—  Officers were told that two boys, ages 6 and 7, were accosted by a group of people while getting off an elevator in a Williamsburg apartment building Monday night, and one of the boys was hit, Harrison said. The attackers fled.

— A 25-year-old man told police he was walking on a Crown Heights street early Tuesday when a group of people started yelling anti-Semitic slurs at him and one threw a beverage at him. The suspects fled.

— Later Tuesday in Crown Heights, a 56-year-old man said that a group of people approached him, and that one of them punched him, while he was walking. No arrests have been made.

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