Wednesday, August 23, 2023 10:18PM
UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) — Elected leaders spoke out on Wednesday in a push to close a loophole in the laws to make prosecuting hate crimes easier.
Officials and community leaders gathered outside Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side a week after a man was arrested and charged with spray-painting a display screen.
While he was charged with graffiti as a hate crime, officials say too often folks are getting away with hate crimes due to loopholes in the law.
Councilmember Keith Powers explained how there have been numerous false threats made against synagogues and graffiti sprayed on the houses of worship.
“Were asking our state partners and law enforcement to do is to take a look at hate crime statute and think about expanding it, we’re going to work with district attorney’s office, law enforcement and state partners to do that,” Powers said.
Sometimes cases are difficult to prosecute as hate crimes simply because of how the law is written. It can be difficult to prove hateful intent.
While lawmakers hope to meet with the district attorney and other leaders to strengthen the laws, the congregation at Kehilath Jeshurun is still recovering.
“It’s painful to have an attack which leaves behind a sense of sense of violation, it’s painful to contemplate what more can come,” said Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz.
Police say 21-year-old Lenny de la Rosa vandalized the synagogue and authorities say he is connected to a string of bias incidents.
Antisemitic attacks have gone down in New York City roughly 20% between now and this time last year.
However, the Anti-Defamation League says antisemitic incidents have gone up statewide from 416 in 2021 to 580 last year.
Leaders also discussed ways to prevent the attacks, including more educational outreach.
The announcement on Wednesday came as Mayor Eric Adams continues his trip in Israel where he is discussing with leaders there ways to combat antisemitism.
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