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Brooklyn man charged with hate crimes after allegedly defacing synagogue with anti-Semitic graffiti

NYPD officers stand guard at the door of the Union Temple of Brooklyn on November 2, 2018 in New York City. - New York police were investigating anti-Semitic graffiti found inside a Brooklyn synagogue that forced the cancellation of a political event less than a week after the worst anti-Semitic attack in modern US history. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR / AFP)

Brooklyn resident James Polite was charged with multiple criminal charges on Friday after police found anti-Semitic graffiti in the Union Temple.

What's the story?

New York police found anti-Semitic graffiti spray painted on the floors of Union Temple of Brooklyn. According to WABC-TV, some of the graffiti included "Kill all Jews," "Hitler," and "Die Jew rats we are here."

The vandalism forced the cancellation of a political event featuring actress Ilana Glazer.

Polite is being charged with four counts of political mischief as a hate crime and graffiti.

Police did not indicate how they determined that Polite was allegedly behind the vandalism, but they indicated that he was also being charged in connection with a number of arson incidents, including one at a yeshiva and another at a Jewish banquet hall. They also indicated that Polite was being sent to Woodhall Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

According to WABC, the former president of the NYC Council indicated that Polite was known to have a history of mental illness, and spent his life in and out of the foster system.

What else?

Anti-semitic incidents have been on the rise across the country in the last two years, in particular in New York City. Although Jews comprise only 13 percent of the city's population, they are the targets of more than half of all hate crimes in the city, according to the New York Times.

However, the attacks received relatively little publicity before the mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh focused the nation's attention on incidents of anti-Semitic hate crime.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio attended Shabbat services at the temple on Friday night in a show of solidarity, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed the Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate.


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