Hate Crimes Proposed to be excluded from Bail Reform

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Anti-semitism is nothing new. As New Yorkers, with the largest Jewish population outside of the State of Israel, we are used to seeing attacks against our people and our property. We must, however, come together and say “enough is enough.”

Recently, a young man named Joseph Borgen was brutally attacked in Time Square and in broad daylight simply for being a Jews. Additionally, four Bronx synagogues were brutally vandalized – in broad daylight as well. Jordan Burnette, a 29-year old Bronx resident, is accused of throwing rocks through windows, smashing shelves, and stealing items from inside the four shuls with wanton regard or respect for our history, culture, or the free practice of religion.

Then, in a turn of events that added insult to injury, Burnette, who was originally held on $30,000 bond – was released by acting Bronx Supreme Court Justice Tara Collins. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appointed Judge Collins to her seat, later said that the idea of changing the law to allow judges in non-violent hate crimes to set bail is “an area that we definitely should look at again because hate crimes are such a profound challenge,” according to the New York Post.

Assemlyman David Weprin has introduced legislation in the legislature to create a carve out in the bail reform laws – passed in 2019 and amended last year – so that perpetrators of hate crimes such as the ones in the Bronx can be held on cash bail following their arrest and arraignments at a judge’s discretion.

Weprin who is running for New York City Comptroller, has been working tirelessly over the last few weeks, to ensure the passage of this pivotal legislation in both the Assembly and the Senate.

This spate of hate crimes were only the newest ugly assaults on Jewish folks in New York. But they will not be the last by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), last year saw 2,204 reported incidents of anti-Semitism such as the Bronx synagogue attacks, all over the United States. This included – according to the ADL report – 751 incidents of vandalism, “cases where property was damaged in a manner which that harmed or intimidated Jews. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted as symbols of anti-Semitic hatred, were present in 517 of these incidents.”

As long as Jews have come to the United States of America in order to outrun the czars, sultans, kings, chancellors, and – yes – fuhrers behind us, we have faced opposition in front too. Swastikas have been painted on our doors, windows have been shattered, and tires have been slashed. But one thing that could not be broken was our will and our resolve. That has only gotten stronger.

Those who hate us will not win because we persevere. We study the Torah and continue to do what makes us Jewish – even in the face of mortal danger.

Hate crimes like those perpetrated against Joseph Borgen and the four Bronx shuls must not be tolerated. We must stand up as a city to those who would do us – and the places we hold sacred – harm. Ensuring that they are held accountable and put behind bars is a great place to start.

Weprin is also the only candidate endorsed by all five police unions and by the NY Daily News.