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NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating an anti-Semitic incident in NYC for a second weekend in a row

By Laura Studley, CNN

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating after a Jewish man was reportedly punched in the face Friday, police said, marking the second weekend in a row the task force was investigating incidents against members of the Jewish community.

Anti-Semitic graffiti was also discovered two weeks running, according to police.

The Friday incident happened around 10:36 p.m. as a 22-year-old man was approached by someone asking for directions on Avenue L in Brooklyn, according to information provided by the NYPD.

The victim answered, but as he walked away, he was punched in the face by the man, police said. The suspect fled the scene in a vehicle, they said.

On Sunday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a statement alleging a second man in a van filmed the attack.

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force was notified of the incident, police told CNN.

Just over 10 minutes later and less than a mile away from the first incident, police say a 14-year-old reported being approached by a man on Nostrand Avenue who “yelled at him and asked him for his name,” according to police. The teen ran away “in fear for his safety,” police said.

The same person is believed to be involved in both incidents, the ADL said.

The weekend prior, police said two Jewish men were assaulted in Brooklyn and a swastika was painted on a school bus. The hate crime unit is investigating those incidents as well.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul condemned Friday’s punching incident in a tweet Sunday, calling it a “horrific act” and said she is directing the New York State Police’s Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation. “We stand with the Jewish community in the face of abhorrent antisemitism,” the governor tweeted.

“Make no mistake,” New York Mayor Eric Adams tweeted Saturday, “an attack on our Jewish community is an attack on every New Yorker.” The mayor asked for the public to come forward with any information about the assault.

In addition to the attack on Friday, police told CNN an unknown suspect spray-painted an “anti-Semitic statement” on the window of a building in Queens around 5 p.m. Saturday. The suspect fled the scene on foot, police said.

“We are horrified by the antisemitic graffiti found on a dental lab,” the ADL said in a tweet Sunday. “ADL is deeply concerned with the increase in bias incident frequency and severity currently blanketing the NY/NJ region.”

Anti-Semitic incidents in the US have been on the rise for years, with 941 incidents reported in 2015 and 2,024 incidents tracked in 2020 by the Anti-Defamation League. Hate crime data provided by the NYPD shows there were 198 attacks on the city’s Jewish community last year, resulting in 58 arrests.

There have been no arrests in any of the weekend incidents, and police are still investigating each case, the NYPD told CNN Sunday.

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