A man from Florida has been arrested and charged with a felony count of assault after attacking a 65-year-old Jewish man in New York City. The assault has been labeled a hate crime because the alleged assailant, 28-year-old Steven Jorge, was said to have yelled an anti-Semitic comment before punching the man Monday morning, Spectrum News NY 1 reported.
According to New York Police Sgt. Lee Jones, the police department received a call Monday morning after the victim fell to the ground. He was immediately treated at the scene, with Jorge arrested shortly after. Jorge struck the victim in the face, causing him to fall, then continued to kick him while he was on the ground, the victim told police.
The founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism, Dov Hikind, said he spoke to the victim, who identifies as an Orthodox Jew and was wearing a kippah, or religious cap, at the time of the attack. “The victim of this crime is in total shock and disbelief,” Hikind said in a statement. “He is traumatized and will live forever with this wanton attack.”
Both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also condemned the attacks. Blasio took to Twitter to express his sentiments, while Cuomo issued a statement Wednesday, calling the attack horrific. He also mentioned his plans to have state officials assist New York City police in the investigation. "We have absolutely zero tolerance for bigotry and hate, and we will continue to call it out whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head," the governor said in his statement.
The attack occurred on the first day of Hanukkah, and, according to CNN, “The NYPD has reported 166 anti-Semitic incidents from January through September this year.” While most crimes do not involve assault, anti-semitic incidents are the most commonly reported hate crimes in the city. Hate crimes have been on the rise since the last presidential election. Data from USAFacts shows that the number of hate crimes in the U.S. is growing. According to the data, between 2015 and 2017, anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic crimes have seen a 40% increase nationally.
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 defines hate crimes as crimes with a bias motivation and committed based on one’s identity, which may include race, color, religion, and sexual orientation. While numbers of hate crimes against all minority groups have increased since the election of President Donald Trump, anti-Semitic crimes are increasing at an alarming rate. Earlier this month, Daily Kos reported on an anti-Semitic attack in which a shooter killed, six people, including a police officer, in Jersey City.
If you are placed in physical danger because of your ethnicity, religion, race, or identity, call the police (dial 911 in the U.S.), or click here to contact your local FBI office. It is the FBI’s job to investigate hate-motivated crimes and threats of violence. You can also report a hate crime to the FBI online using this form.