New York Police have arrested a suspect in connection with an anti-Semitic vandalism attack on a Prospect Heights synagogue late last week. James Polite, 26, was arrested on charges of aggravated harassment in the case. He is also charged with setting several small fires in Williamsburg, according to a report published Saturday by the New York Daily News.
Polite was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation at Woodhull Hospital, according to the report, which said the suspect was an intern for former City Hall Speaker Christine Quinn, and also worked on the campaign for former President Barack Obama.
Quinn admitted to knowing Polite, but tweeted an angry statement Saturday night, saying she was “simply and utterly devastated” at the “vile expression of bigotry and anti-Semitism,” which she said was “indefensible.”
— Christine Quinn (@chriscquinn) November 3, 2018
The anti-Semitic hate messages were discovered on a door and in the stairwell at the historic Union Temple Reform Jewish synagogue building Thursday evening, leading to the cancellation of a political event that night. ‘Broad City’ star Ilana Glazer emerged from the venue at around 8:30 pm to tell the crowd that had gathered for the evening that it would not take place, due to the hate found inside.
“Kill all Jews” was scrawled on a door in the synagogue, according to the New York Post. Anti-Semitic slurs were found on the second and fifth floor as well, leading to fears for the safety of those who had gathered for the evening’s event.
The incident followed by one day another in which vandals scrawled a swastika and the “n” word on the stairs of a home in Brooklyn Heights. The graffiti was discovered around 9:30 pm Tuesday – barely four days after a mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea noted during an unrelated news conference on Wednesday there were “several incidents of swastikas being drawn” in the police precinct that encompasses the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.
“What we’ve seen in the last month is an increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes, particularly Swastikas on buildings in parts of the city,” Shea said. “Anti-Semitic hate crimes make up about half of all of the hate crimes that we see in New York City.”