Anti-Israeli vandalism at Upper West Side cafe investigated as possible hate crime

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Monday, March 18, 2024
Anti-Israel vandalism of UWS cafe investigated as possible hate crime
Crystal Cranmore has more on the investigation from the Upper West Side.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police are investigating a possible hate crime after a cafe on the Upper West Side was vandalized Saturday night.

It happened at Effy's Cafe at 96th Street and Columbus Avenue around 10:30 p.m.

Police discovered "Free Gaza" spray-painted on the building and "Form line here to support genocide" written on the sidewalk.

The cafe is an Israeli-owned business that has served the community for the last 15 years.

Manager Ben Zara first discovered the vandalism when she opened up shop on Sunday.

"I know New York is full of crazy people but seeing it first hand terrifies me," Zara said.

Volunteers came together to help clean up, but some remnants of the red paint still remained on Monday morning.

"I ran out and got supplies," said one resident named Melanie. "That's what neighbors do."

The community also stepped up to turn what is normally a slow Monday morning into a busy one.

"My customers said they're going to be calling all of the Jewish community to support so we're going to get slammed," owner Ben Zara said.

Among the patrons were community activists and politicians who denounced the attack outside the restaurant, including Congressman Jerry Nadler.

Not far from the cafe, police are investigating another potential hate crime after someone in a vehicle on 100th Street and West End Avenue threw objects at a 19-year-old and 65-year-old man on Sunday night. Both men are Orthodox and complained of pain but refused medical treatment.

So far this year, there have been at least 62 antisemitic attacks. That's up from 41 this time last year.

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