Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez Hits Back to the Community’s Complaints that He isn’t Doing Enough to Prosecute anti-Semitic Hate Crimes

Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez Hits Back to the Community’s Complaints that He isn’t Doing Enough to Prosecute anti-Semitic Hate Crimes

By Yehudit Garmaise

On Aug. 28, Tablet Magazine published an article that cited a study taken by Americans Against Anti-Semitism (AAA) that claimed that out of the 118 adults who were arrested for hate crimes that targeted Jews, only one was convicted and sent to prison since 2018.

When BoroPark24 reached out to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez for a response, however, Oren Yaniv, Gonzalez’s director of communications, told a different story.

“The study taken is incomplete and incorrect,” Yaniv said about the report taken on by AAA that was founded by Dov Hikind who represented Boro Park’s 48th district in the NY Assembly for 36 years.

“Out of the 54 anti-Jewish hate crime cases handled in Brooklyn between 2018 to 2021, 27 or 50% ended with convictions, including incarceration in numerous cases,” Yaniv said. 

“Most of the remaining cases are still pending, as they are resolved in the Mental Health Court, or [the cases] have been transferred to Family Court, Yaniv said. “Some cases referenced in the report remain open, and other defendants pleaded guilty and have been held accountable.

“It is unfortunate that [Hikind’s] writers did not reach out to our office to get these facts and correct errors before publication.”

Cabdriver Farrukh Afzal, 41, of Staten Island, for instance, will be jailed for after his conviction last week on charge of second-degree attempted assault, third-degree assault and third-degree menacing of three Jewish men in Boro Park.

“Two months ago, we convicted someone who is going to jail for seven years after assaulting a Jewish man,” Yaniv said. “So how can people say we are not prosecuting?”

“Our dedicated Hate Crimes Bureau takes all allegations of hate crimes very seriously and works constantly with the police and targeted communities to address these despicable offenses,” Yaniv said. “I am not aware of anyone who committed an anti-Jewish crime who has been let out on bail or has been out on no bail on an existing case.

“I don’t see how people connect bail reform to the uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes. I don’t see how some misdemeanors now not being eligible for bail is a factor in more anti-Jewish hate crimes.

“I don’t see how that connects. People are saying stuff that doesn’t have any substance.”

In Brooklyn, however, where in some neighborhoods Jews are feeling anxious, when hate crime perpetrators are arrested, Jews often say with cynicism that those who wish to harm them will be back on the streets within hours.

A Brooklyn cop, who sees the same criminals get arrested “over and over and over again,” said less bail, plus district attorneys who are not prosecuting and judges who downgrade cops’ charges are directly to blame for the uptick in crime in general and hate crimes.

Even before bail reform, however, Yaniv explained that anyone could pay their bail would get out of jail immediately and return to the streets until their trials.

Bail reform, however, has significantly increased the number of perpetrators who return immediately to the streets, which cops say, clearly caused the ever-increasing crime wave in NY.

Another new law that raised the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18, now sends all underage perpetrators to Family Court.

“The DA cannot touch these [recent Williamsburg] cases,” explained Rabbi Moshe Indig, a Williamsburg askan. “The state takes children who are perpetrators and takes them to Family Court, where the judge gives the perpetrators ‘nice speeches.’

“The perpetrators of hate crimes basically get ‘slaps on the hand,’ and then are out in less than two hours to do it again.”

“The Brooklyn DA is taking every legal step possible to prosecute every crime, especially the hate crimes for which Gonzalez created a whole separate division, but when perpetrators are younger than 18 years old, the DA’s hands are tied.”

Many NYPD officers say, “The DAs in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx care more about the protections and freedoms of the perpetrators of crime than they care about the victims.”

When asked whether and how Gonzalez’s prosecution policies differ from those of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who has been much criticized for his refusal to prosecute many crimes, Yaniv said, “The DA doesn’t comment on any other elected official.”

“We take violent crime very seriously,” said Yaniv, who said the DA’s office works closely with the NYPD, with whom they have a good relationship. “We prosecute all violent crime and/or hate crime. 

“There is no example of a hate crime arrest that the police made that we did not prosecute or process by sending perpetrators to mental health services or Family Court.”

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