Local activist threatened with beheading outside Bay Ridge mosque
The 68th Precinct arrested 45-year-old Brian Boshell on Wednesday, September 3 after he allegedly threatened to behead Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY), while she was leaving her Fifth Avenue office in Bay Ridge.
“My Deputy Director and I were harassed and assaulted by a bigoted drunk who hurled hateful Islamaphobic and anti-Arab epithets at us,” wrote Sarsour on Facebook of the alleged attacks that took place around noon near the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge. “He said, ‘you are cutting people’s heads off sharmoota, I’m going to cut your head off and see how your people will feel, you Arab b-tch,’ and plenty more after that.
“He had some sort of item or tool in his back pocket (we could see the handle of it),” she went on, claiming that her attacker then picked up a metal New York City garbage can from the corner and threw it at the women, prompting them to run into oncoming traffic.
Sarsour, who on July 22 took to the Islamic Center to condemn publicly a string of alleged hate crimes towards Muslim worshippers outside of Brooklyn mosques, said it took about 45 minutes for the police to arrive at the scene.
According to a police source, the first call about the incident – mentioning only an intoxicated male — came into 911 at 12:24 p.m. The second call to 911, at 12:29 p.m., mentions that the “intoxicated male” was now chasing people, with a request that “cops get there fast.”
That information was not relayed to the 68th Precinct till 12:40 p.m. and didn’t get assigned to a sector car, the source said, because all of them were out on calls.
At around 12:50, Sarsour encountered a sergeant at a nearby deli. While sergeants – who are responsible to supervise police officers — don’t answer jobs as part of their duties, according to the source, the sergeant did head to the scene, the source recounted, and by 1 p.m. there were cops at the scene investigating the incident. By that time, the suspect had left; he was picked up around two hours later, at about 3 p.m.
The source said that Boshell was subsequently charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree, menacing 2 as a hate crime, and aggravated harassment as a hate crime.
“[I] hope things like this never happen to anyone,” Sarsour said, calling the incident “a very traumatic experience” and lauding Kayla Santosuosso, deputy director at the AAANY, for being her “hero.”
“I am outraged that she had to experience a horrific act of hate as she was trying to protect me,” wrote Sarsour. “Kayla could have easily left me out there, but her top priorities were to protect the clients who were in the AAANY waiting area and to make sure I got to safety. She stepped up and advocated for our community in a way that I already knew she would but still warmed my heart.”
Sarsour wasn’t the only one using social media to shed light on the hate crime. Councilmembers Brad Lander and Mark Levine immediately condemned the act, Levine calling it a “disgusting Islamaphobic attack.”
“All [New Yorkers] must reject this,” he went on, hashtagging “#TakeOnHate,” a nod to a grassroots campaign launched by Sarsour, local pols and religious leaders to “achieve meaningful social change.”
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