Local politicians and community members are alarmed by a wild incident that unfolded on the streets of Crown Heights on Saturday night. Dozens of teenagers were seen marauding through the neighborhood around 9 p.m., and security camera footage shows them pouring into Gourmet Butcher, where they vandalized the store and allegedly assaulted an employee. Here's video:
Police say the 23-year-old son of store owner Yanki Klein was assaulted during the melee, and Klein tells CrownHeights.info, "I was in total shock, I did not even know how to react." He called 911, but police have made no arrests.
A local Shomrim patrol noticed the crowd of teens running through the streets before their stop at Gourmet Butcher, located on the corner of Carroll and Troy Avenues. Their rampage also included an attempt to release the brakes on two parked school buses. Klein tells CrownHeights.info this is an ongoing problem:
"[Very often] these kinds of kids come by my store and yell ‘heil hitler,’ or steal things that are on shelves near the door,” he said. “I’ve asked the police to put an officer on my corner many times, but I feel like I am being ignored and these ‘minor’ problems keep happening. And now this, it is a miracle that they did not manage to get all the way into the store, otherwise I would have been dealing with much more damage or worse, heaven forbid."
“The young kids don’t care about nothing,” another Crown Heights resident tells CBS2. “They do whatever they want and no one’s going to stop them.” Nothing changes.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is holding a press conference today to denounce what he describes as "recent attacks against members and institutions of the Jewish community." One such incident occurred last week outside Barclays Center, where Leonard Petlakh, director of the Kings Bay Y, was allegedly assaulted by protesters following an exhibition basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv. The NYPD is investigating the incident as a hate crime, according to Adams.
Update: The Anti-Defamation League is calling the deli vandalism a hate crime. Evan R. Bernstein, ADL New York Regional Director, issued this statement:
This outrageous attack on a Jewish business is a shocking hate crime that has left the Jewish community in Crown Heights deeply shaken and understandably angry and concerned for their safety.
Given the history in Crown Heights, it is imperative that city leaders out to make clear that this kind of brazen anti-Semitic attack is completely unacceptable in New York City and reassure the community that this kind of freewheeling violence cannot and will not happen again.
Law enforcement must do their utmost to ensure that the perpetrators are identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, including hate crime charges if warranted. This will send a strong message that this kind of unprovoked attack is clearly unacceptable and runs against everything this diverse city represents. In the coming days ADL will be involved in working to ensure that the strong Black-Jewish dialogue in Crown Heights continues and that the community works together to ensure that peace and goodwill will prevail in the neighborhood.