The Guardian Angels private crime prevention group have begun patrolling Brooklyn’s Jewish neighborhoods to provide “visual deterrence” following an ongoing rise in the number of anti-Semitic attacks against the city’s Jews.
Curtis Sliwa, who founded the unarmed group in 1979 promised in an interview with NBC News on Saturday evening their patrols would begin in the Crown Heights neighborhood. As promised, the patrols did indeed begin right on schedule. Sliwa said the patrols would expand to the Williamsburg and Borough Park sections later in the day.
It wasn’t a moment too soon.
Within hours of that interview, a black man wearing a bulky winter coat walked into the synagogue at the Monsey home of a Chasidic rabbi late Saturday night where a Chanukah party was taking place, in the Forshay neighborhood in Monsey, at around 10:30 pm.
Suspect Held in Machete Attack at Rabbi’s Home in Monsey, NY
Thomas Grafton, 37 of Greenwood Lake, New York, was arrested Sunday morning and charged with five counts of attempted murder for the alleged anti-Semitic domestic terror attack in the synagogue.
According to eyewitness reports, he allegedly opened the garment and began swinging a machete at the rabbi’s guests. Within moments, 15 people were injured, including five with serious wounds. One of the wounded is the rabbi’s own son; his status is not yet clear. Two are in critical condition; three others are seriously injured. All five were taken to local area hospitals.
CBS News reported that Grafton was arrested while driving a gray Nissan Sentra at the intersection of West 144th Street and Adam Clayton Boulevard in Harlem. He was taken to the NYPD 32nd Precinct for questioning.
Last week, there were eight anti-Semitic attacks perpetrated against Jews in Brooklyn, the New York Police Department (NYPD) reported.
Among those attacks were four incidents that took place in the Chasidic Jewish section of Crown Heights, where Sliwa said the Guardian Angels decided to begin their patrols.
The most recent attack was that of a man who entered Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters at “770” Eastern Parkway on Friday morning and threatened to “shoot up the place” and kill all the Jews inside. He then fled the building and ran into the Utica Avenue subway station, witnesses said.
Police later tracked down the suspect as someone who was staying at a shelter in the Bronx and made the arrest, according to a report on the COLLive news site.
Sliwa told NBC News that local Chabad leaders have asked the Guardian Angels’ help, and he believes patrols by his group can put a stop to the attacks.
“We’re a visual deterrence in our red berets and our red satin jackets,” Sliwa said. “Nobody’s going to commit an attack when we’re around.” If they do, he added, “We’ll physically restrain the persons responsible, make a citizen’s arrest and hold them until the police arrive.”
The strategy is similar to that carried out by the Shmira civil patrol in the neighborhood. However, it is believed the impact of Guardian Angels’ involvement in the mix is likely to be more intimidating, and far more likely to quiet things down, than the simple involvement of the Chasidic Shmira patrol.