BREAKING NEWS Big Ten officially postpones the 2020-2021 fall sports season Full Story

Suspect faces hate crime charges for graffiti

A man was arrested and has been charged with hate crimes after anti-Semitic messages were found in a Brooklyn temple, police said.

Posted: Nov 5, 2018 9:30 AM
Updated: Nov 5, 2018 9:35 AM

A New York man was arrested and charged with hate crimes Friday night after anti-Semitic messages were found in a temple, police said.

James Polite, 26, faces multiple charges, including fourth-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime and second-degree aggravated harassment as a hate crime in connection with anti-Semitic remarks found at the temple and fires set at several locations in Brooklyn hours later.

On Thursday night, graffiti was found on four floors of the Union Temple in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood, some of which said "Hitler," "Jews better be ready" and "Die Jew rats we are here," the New York Police Department said.

Polite was also charged with second-degree arson and second-degree reckless endangerment -- both hate crimes -- in connection with a fire set early Friday in the coat closet of a Yeshiva school on Hewes Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood and fires at six other nearby locations, the NYPD said.

The locations appear to be associated with the Jewish community in Brooklyn.

A janitor at the Yeshiva school noticed the fire, which was likely set between 2 and 2:30 a.m., and called authorities, NYPD Sgt. Lee Jones said. Police apprehended Polite at the scene. He was taken to Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn for a psychological evaluation, Jones said.

While Polite was at the hospital, police determined he was the same man wanted in connection with the anti-Semitic graffiti found at Union Temple, Jones said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attended Shabbat services at the temple Friday night as a show of solidarity.

After the service, he told journalists the incident was a horrible act of hate and "deeply disturbing to all New Yorkers."

"But it is particularly painful for members of the Jewish community who feel very vulnerable right now, who feel under attack," de Blasio said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was directing the state's hate crime unit to investigate.

"The disgusting rhetoric and heinous violence in this nation has reached a fever pitch and is ripping at the fabric of America, and it must stop," he said. "In New York, we have forged community through chords of commonality and we will always stand together against hate and discrimination."

As of Sunday night Polite was still at Woodhull Hospital. He has not appeared in court, the NYPD said. It wasn't clear when he would be arraigned.

Suspect had troubles, mentor says

Polite learned he had bipolar disorder after he entered a required rehabilitation program in 2015, according to The New York Times, who profiled Polite in December 2017. Polite smoked marijuana as a way to manage stress during college, according to the Times, and was placed on a "health leave of absence" before entering the rehabilitation program.

Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she knows Polite. Polite had an internship with Quinn when she was on the council, according to The New York Times profile.

Quinn tweeted that she and others have tried to help him as he went through the foster care and mental health systems and he dealt with homelessness.

"The actions he is accused of break my heart and devastate all of us who tried to help him get on solid footing over the years. And while he has experienced hardship that most people can't ever imagine, his actions are inexcusable," she wrote.

The Times story said Polite worked for Quinn on initiatives to fight hate crimes, domestic violence and sexual assault. The article said Polite called his foster parents, Jenny Levison and Josh Waletzky, his second parents.

Quinn could not be reached on Sunday. Multiple attempts on Sunday to reach Polite's foster parents named in The Times article were unsuccessful.

Polite had been a volunteer for Barack Obama's first presidential bid, registering voters and canvassing neighborhoods in New York, and met Quinn at a gay pride rally for Obama in 2008, the Times reported. An Obama spokesperson declined to comment on Sunday.

Polite graduated from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 2018, according to a university spokesperson, Julian Cardillo, who did not provide additional details of Polite's time at the university.

Other cities recently saw anti-Semitic acts

Swastikas have appeared in at least a handful of US cities since a massacre in Pittsburgh in which 11 worshippers were killed.

On Wednesday morning, a New York resident posted pictures of swastikas that had been scrawled on homes in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.

The Nazi symbols also appeared on Navy property this week in Bucks County, near Philadelphia. Warminster Township Manager Gregg Schuster posted online that local officials have been in contact with the Navy to get the symbols removed.

"The use of the swastika is a cowardly act," he said. "In light of what our neighbors in Pittsburgh recently went through, I hope we can refrain from using these symbols of hate. There is no place in Warminster for this disgusting act and I know our community will never accept this behavior."

A swastika also was found scrawled on a piece of paper in an elevator Monday at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, according to CNN affiliate WHAM.

Also this week, authorities said a synagogue in Irvine, California, had been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Someone spray-painted "F*** Jews" early Wednesday on the wall of Beth Jacob Congregation in Irvine, police said.

Anti-Semitic incidents have been increasing in the United States in the last few years, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of conservative rabbis, said last weekend's shooting is a reminder that anti-Semitism "is on the rise in America at a rate unprecedented in decades."

There were 151 anti-Semitic hate crimes complaints in the city of New York in 2017, according to a report on the police department website.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 98°
Florence
Few Clouds
95° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 101°
Fayetteville
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
Decatur
Few Clouds
93° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 93°
Scottsboro
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 108°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
Limestone134913
Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
Escambia108717
Talladega104814
Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
Clay2635
Geneva2631
Greene25211
Lamar2292
Fayette2125
Cleburne1271
Coosa1033
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 123914

Reported Deaths: 1233
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby23485308
Davidson20722217
Rutherford658955
Hamilton622053
Knox468540
Williamson357725
Sumner344972
Unassigned31424
Out of TN294714
Wilson232123
Bradley195613
Montgomery195213
Sevier18947
Putnam178518
Trousdale15836
Robertson156720
Hamblen140514
Blount131411
Washington12772
Maury12727
Tipton121110
Madison116018
Sullivan103714
Hardeman93017
Bedford92811
Macon86013
Lake7920
Loudon7493
Gibson7266
Bledsoe7081
Fayette7028
Dickson6982
Anderson6936
Dyer6638
Henderson6043
Cheatham5997
Jefferson5844
Obion5794
Lawrence5756
McMinn55320
Coffee5483
Rhea5382
Warren5334
Carter5246
Lauderdale5148
Haywood5106
Greene5048
Roane4852
Hawkins4837
Hardin4828
Cocke4783
Weakley4634
Cumberland4586
Smith4554
Monroe4529
Giles38513
McNairy3815
DeKalb3652
Franklin3324
Carroll3253
Lincoln3091
Marshall3044
White2945
Henry2900
Johnson2850
Claiborne2760
Hickman2730
Crockett2695
Campbell2541
Wayne2282
Marion2274
Chester2232
Decatur2163
Polk2073
Grainger2000
Overton1981
Unicoi1690
Union1620
Benton1591
Cannon1510
Jackson1291
Humphreys1283
Morgan1261
Scott1220
Grundy1142
Meigs1060
Sequatchie1060
Fentress960
Hancock812
Perry810
Clay780
Stewart780
Lewis741
Moore610
Houston590
Pickett371
Van Buren360

Community Events