Friday, February 24, 2017

New Square: Swastikas, 'get out' spray-painted on fence 


Nazi swastikas and the words "get out" were spray-painted in black along a vinyl fence on the border of this Hasidic Jewish village, in the latest anti-Semitic incident in Rockland County.

Residents found the graffiti Tuesday night on Polnoya Road. It was painted on a white, 6-foot high fence separating the village from the Friedwald House rehabilitation facility on New Hempstead Road in New City, Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said Thursday.

Police detectives were called to the scene at 8:10 p.m. and are continuing to investigate the incident.

"At this time, it cannot be determined how long the graffiti has been on the fence but it appears to be have recent," Weidel said.

Mayor Israel Spitzer called the spray-painting bigoted and an attack against the community, which was formed in 1961 after Skver grand rabbi Yaakov Yosef Twersky sent a group of followers from Williamsburg in Brooklyn to a 130-acre dairy farm bought in 1954 along Route 45.

Twersky led his followers to the United States from Ukraine after the Holocaust and World War II.

"On behalf of the residents of the Village of New Square and in the strongest terms possible, I condemn this hateful act of anti-Semitism against our community," Spitzer said.

Spitzer said he is confident that Ramapo police and Rockland Sheriff's Office "will do all they can to try to identify the individual or individuals behind this crime."

Rockland County Executive Ed Day condemned the graffiti as "another act of hate in our community."

"These actions do not reflect or represent the sentiments of the vast majority of people who live in Rockland and value the diversity of our county," said Day, adding that the county's Department of Human Rights was reaching out to New Square leaders.

Earlier this month, The Journal News/lohud reported that swastikas and other hate graffiti had been spray-painted on a dozen trees in a wooded area off Heritage Drive in New City. That case had been first reported to Clarkstown police in July; they have not made an arrest and the graffiti remained on the trees for months after its discovery.

The property owner painted over the swastikas shortly after The Journal News/lohud report was published.

Another incident occurred just after the tree spray-painting when people detonated three powerful M-98 fireworks on Aug. 9 outside the homes of two rabbis with the Chabad Lubavitch of Rockland. Clarkstown police said they had identified young suspects but they lacked enough evidence to charge them.

The swastikas spray-painted in New Square comes at a time when tensions are high in Ramapo over housing, social and other issues.

It also comes at the same time as a rash of bomb scares toward Jewish community centers and a reported increase in anti-Semitic incidents around the nation.

Anyone with information regarding the New Square case can call the Ramapo Police Department at 845-357-2400.

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