Jews and Muslims are becoming victims of hate crimes more and more. Suspected hate crimes against Jewish and Muslim people have increased in New York City following unrest overseas this summer, but the attacks are random and not from any organized group, police officials said Wednesday.
Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, who heads the special victims division, said there's been an increase since July 1, when reports about the unrest in Gaza and the Islamic State group became front-page news.
Before July 1, reports of the crimes were down. Since then, there have been about 18 reports of anti-Semitic crimes per month. So far this year there have been 89 suspected hate crime attacks, up from 64 last year. There have been 17 reported attacks against Muslims, up from seven last year. Fourteen of the attacks on Muslims occurred after July 1.
The crimes vary from anti-Semitic statements to assaults and vandalism. They include a 55-year-old New York man accused of mowing down a Sikh man with his pickup truck after calling him a terrorist and a series of fliers with swastikas that were found in Brooklyn, home to the largest concentration of Orthodox Jews outside Israel.
Osgood said at a briefing ahead of the upcoming holy days that the sustained media attention about overseas conflicts creates "an emotional surge" in New York.
"Two things occur: A person who would normally not offend now offends, he's moved by the emotion. And the person who normally not report, now reports," Osgood said.
The incidents are not from any organized group, Osgood said. They are random and impulsive acts by "street thugs," he said.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said the authorities were watching very closely and aggressively. He said it was important to note that the crimes are not an organized effort to strike a particular religious group or race.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.