A gang of individuals allegedly assaulted a 29-year-old Jewish man in New York City’s Times Square on Thursday evening, according to police.
The person was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries before being released. According to the New York City Police Department, the event is now being treated as a hate crime.
According to ABC News, one suspect, Waseem Awawdeh, 23, of Brooklyn, was apprehended in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday night. He was charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime, gang assault, threatening, and criminal possession of a firearm. According to authorities, the latter accusation pertains to crutches that Awawdeh reportedly used to strike the victim.
According to police sources, detectives are looking for up to six more people in connection with the event.
According to Nassau County executive Laura Curran, the victim lives in Nassau County on Long Island, and she was “appalled” by the incident.
“We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and against vile anti-Semitism that will never find comfort in our communities,” Curran said in a statement Friday. “I have asked the Nassau County Police to continue to communicate with synagogues and yeshivas, as well as other houses of worship, to ensure all of our residents are protected.”
“Justice must be done,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to help in the investigations of similar crimes.
“I unequivocally condemn these brutal attacks on visibly Jewish New Yorkers and we will not tolerate anti-Semitic violent gang harassment and intimidation,” Cuomo said in a statement Friday. “New York is the vibrant and dynamic home for people from around the world. This tapestry makes New York the extraordinary place that it is. Those of all faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities must be able to walk the streets safely and free from harassment and violence.”
The event occurred during a clash of protests over Israel’s deadly conflict with Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip. Pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrators clashed on the streets of Midtown Manhattan on Thursday evening, as a cease-fire was declared between the two sides. At times, the two groups collided, resulting in violence.
According to police, at least 26 individuals were detained during the protests on Thursday, including 25 men and one woman, on accusations of impeding governmental administration, resisting arrest, illegal assembly, disorderly behavior, and criminal possession of a weapon. Seventeen summonses were issued, as well as seven desk appearance tickets.
The assault on the Jewish guy is supposedly captured on film by a witness and afterwards shared on social media. A man is seen lying in the middle of the street, impeding traffic, as a group of others hit and kick him, some holding protest banners. One of the members of the group can be seen thrashing him with crutches.
As per police sources, the victim was wearing a yarmulke, a traditional Jewish head covering also known as a kippa, and was on his way to a pro-Israel rally when he was pepper-sprayed by the gang. According to the accounts, several of the perpetrators shouted anti-Semitic slurs while hitting him.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described the incident as “totally abhorrent and repulsive” in an interview with WNYC radio station on Friday. Synagogues, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and other Jewish institutions in the city have been “fortified,” he claimed.
“We had a man viciously beaten, simply because he appeared to some individuals to be Jewish,” de Blasio told WYNC.
De Blasio said there were also incidents of protesters throwing fireworks, injuring at least one person.
“This is unacceptable,” he added. “We have arrests already and more coming.”
The cease-fire came after an 11-day fight in which Hamas and Israel traded rockets and airstrikes, killing hundreds of people, largely Palestinians, and wreaking havoc on the Gaza Strip’s already destitute neighborhoods.