Midwood Fires Seen as Possible Hate Crime

The Wall Street Journal - November 12, 2011

by TAMER EL-GHOBASHY

Three vehicles were set on fire and several benches were vandalized with anti-Semitic and white supremacist graffiti early Friday in a neighborhood of Brooklyn with a significant Jewish population, authorities said.

Investigators from the New York Police Department's Hate Crimes Task Force were probing the incident in Midwood and a City Council member offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to arrests after several swastikas and racist statements were discovered by firefighters who responded to the scene at about 5:10 a.m., officials said.

In all, three parked vehicles were destroyed, one van had "KKK" scrawled on it and eight park benches and the sidewalk were tagged with hate speech along Ocean Parkway between Avenue I and Bay Parkway, police said.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fires quickly, a spokesman for the fire department said.

Police said no suspects had been identified and no arrests had been made.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg characterized the unknown perpetrators as "twisted" and said it was unknown if the attack was meant to coincide with the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht, when Jewish businesses and homes were destroyed in Germany on Nov. 9-10 in 1938.

"Either way, this kind of hateful act has no place in the freest city in the freest country in the world," he said in a statement.

Council Member David Greenfield is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects in the arson and vandalism. "We will not accept anti-Semitism in our community. There is zero tolerance for such acts of hatred and ignorance," he said in a statement.