Swastikas on Greenpoint restaurant latest in pattern of anti-Semitism, locals say
After the NYPD released footage of the vandals who drew swastikas on the side of a Greenpoint Mexican restaurant, residents are saying that racist graffiti is no new phenomenon in the neighborhood.
The footage, recorded on Dec. 22 outside the restaurant Acapulco and released Wednesday on Twitter, reveals the faces of two suspects, one of whom appears to be in the act of vandalizing the storefront.
“It’s one of the latest in a series of [hate crimes] that’s gone on here for years,” 20-year Greenpoint resident Heather Letzkus said of the incident. “It goes up and it goes down, but it’s always been here.”
The recent crime is reminiscent of a scourge of anti-Semitic messages found posted on U.S. Postal Service stickers around the area last January. September saw a fringe group of polish nationalists protest a Greenpoint resident’s City Council campaign launch, and in November 2018, a Williamsburg family was forced to cover swastikas carved into a concrete sidewalk after their complaints to city agencies and elected officials drew no response.
Dana Rachlin, a member of the community and founder of local civic engagement nonprofit NYC Together, said propagation of racist graffiti has been a repeated incident in Greenpoint.
“Two summers ago we started to see an uptick in swastikas and other incidents happening,” she said. “I think that it’s super important that the NYPD recognizes that this is a common occurrence that deeply impacts us emotionally and psychologically.”
Rachlin, however, lauded the police response, which she said has been swift.
“The police have been really great in working with our community to address the problem,” she later told the Eagle by phone.
Greenpoint residents on Twitter claim to have identified one of the vandals from the recent video as a member of white supremacist organization Proud Boys, using a photo taken at an October 2018 speech by group founder Gavin McInnes at the Metropolitan Republican Club. The event resulted in assaults on protesters and arrests of several members.
Commanding Officer Kathleen E. Fahey of the 94th Precinct, which covers Greenpoint and northern Williamsburg, said the Twitter posts claiming to have identified a suspect have been given to the hate crimes detective investigating the case.
Update (5:17 p.m.): An additional statement from Rachlin was added to this article. It’s also been corrected to say that Letzkus is a 20-year Greenpoint resident, not a 20-year-old Greenpoint resident.
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