Monday, December 22, 2014

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Local Leaders March For Tolerance In Brooklyn

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State and city elected officials and Jewish leaders marched in Midwood, Brooklyn on Sunday to rally for tolerance and better security in the wake of last week's torching of cars and the spreading of hateful graffiti in the neighborhood.

The authorities and local residents walked along Ocean Parkway, where on Friday three cars were set on fire. Nearby graffiti included "KKK," for "Ku Klux Klan," and "SS," for the Nazi military group.

"I'm terribly hurt, I am terribly upset, I am terribly bothered," said Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

"This is a symbol the Klansmen represent. This is the symbol that is part of our dark history. That is not going to find a way in our future," said Brooklyn Senator Eric Adams.

A week earlier, several swastikas were found graffitied in Williamsburg.

"Those things never happened before. I've been here living for 40 years, never happened before like that. It definitely was a planned thing," said a local. "Even when there is mischief, they'll break a car window or something. They never burned the cars."

A week earlier, several swastikas were found graffitied in Williamsburg.

Then, on Friday night, a Hasidic man walking down Ross Street in Williamsburg was punched by another man who police say asked him for food.

While police are not calling the Williamsburg beating a hate crime, local leaders said it is part of a pattern and called for a heightened police presence:

"The city needs to make sure we are protected and the community is safe, week after week and month after month," said Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin.

Leaders and residents are also pointed to other recent anti-Semitic incidents, like the painting of swastikas on two Queens Library branches, a synagogue and a church. Police made an arrest in those cases, but in Midwood residents said the problem is widespread.

"There was mischief and swastikas in Connecticut and New Jersey, when they caught a few youngsters in New Jersey," said a Midwood resident.

Lawmakers stressed on Sunday that no matter where they happens it was important to take all such incidents seriously.

"The police has to take notice, because it wasn't a long time ago that the world did not take notice of what was going on in Nazi Germany, and they allowed things to happen, discrimination against Jews," said Brooklyn Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. "And you know what happened to a religious community that was wiped out. This is the same kind of thing that is happening now."

Local prominent business owners and leaders are offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information should call the New York City Police Department at 1-718-265-7327 or 1-718-265-7387.

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