Police investigate string of possible hate crimes in Brooklyn

Sandra Bookman reports from Crown Heights, Brooklyn
November 12, 2013 5:37:20 PM PST
A hate crime investigation is underway in Brooklyn, where there have been at least eight incidents since September, everything from acts of vandalism to violence.

All of the victims are Jewish.

The surveillance video shows the most recent assault in Crown Heights 9:30 last Sunday night as a group of young African-American males crosses the intersection at Kingston and Crown.

One of them can be seen punching a 20-year-old Jewish man in the face.

Miriam Schmuckler says she encountered the same group just moments before.

"They looked very, I don't know, they look like they were up to trouble and they were drinking alcohol," said Schmulder.

Police confirm this is just one of eight incidents now being investigated by the NYPD's hate crimes task force.

"I don't think it's part of an overall racial tension in the area, it's just something that's some how got into the minds of some youngsters," said Rabbi Eli Cohen of the Jewish Community Council.

But all of the victims have been Jewish and the alleged attackers African-American, including an October assault on a young Jewish woman on Crown Street. And just last Wednesday a 12-year-old boy was punched and knocked to the ground near Brooklyn Avenue and President Street.

Anti-Semitic graffiti has also been spray-painted around the neighborhood.

Community leaders are vowing to get to the bottom of this.

"When I heard of an incident that may have been a bias crime, be it religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, we need to come together as a community to say no we're not going to tolerate this anymore," said district leader Jeffrey Hamilton.

As detectives went door-to-door along Kingston Avenue Tuesday looking for additional surveillance video that might lead them to those responsible, some here demanded more be done.

"I would like to see posters distributed looking for information," said Rabbi Yaacov Behrman of the Jewish Future Alliance. "I would like to see the police offer a reward. I'd like to see an increase in police presence during prime hours between 3 and 7 and frankly I'd like this to end."