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Hate Crimes In New York City Continue To Soar, But Arrests Lag, Data Shows

By Gwynne Hogan | March 31, 2017 9:54am | Updated on April 3, 2017 8:44am
 Swastikas and other troubling words were carved into the marble in Greenpoint, police said.
Swastikas and other troubling words were carved into the marble in Greenpoint, police said.
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Courtesy of Willis Elkins


NEW YORK CITY — Hate crimes across the city shot up 106 percent in March compared with the same time last year, according to police statistics, though most of the perpetrators have yet to be caught.

Police have made arrests in only 31 of the city's 128 hate crimes so far this year, according to NYPD statistics — a frustrating number for investigators who say most of the cases are property crimes, like graffiti swastikas, that go unsolved because there are no witnesses.

Of the hate crimes this year, there have been 27 which have involved physical attacks and one that involved murder, said NYPD spokesman Lieutenant John Grimpel. The rest of the hate crimes include criminal mischief charges like vandalism and harassment.

Police have caught 17 people for 31 hate crimes so far this year, with six of those people charged in multiple bias crimes.

Among the high profile arrests include James Jackson — who police say traveled to New York City from Maryland and used a sword to fatally stab Timothy Caughman in Times Square as "practice" for a murder spree targeting black men — and airline passenger Robin Rhodes, who police said kicked a hijab-wearing Delta airline worker at JFK and said "f--k Islam."

Mayor de Blasio, who has vowed to combat hate crimes in the city, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hate crimes surged following the election of President Donald Trump in November, and continued to climb in the new year, police said.

In March alone, New Yorkers reported 60 hate crimes, nearly the same number that took place in January and February combined.

Reports of anti-Semitic hate crimes, many of which are swastika drawings, make up more than half of the incidents reported this year, according to police data.

“Many of these swastikas are done by kids who don’t know what it means and don’t know what specifically it reminds elderly and survivors who see those things,” said Rabbi David Niederman, head of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, who said he hoped public schools would push more of an emphasis on education about the Holocaust.

Evan Bernstein, the New York Regional Director of the National Anti-Defamation League urged New Yorkers to continue to report hateful crimes as they witness them.

"So many of these things go unreported, no one calls the police and tells them about these things or they see them and they clean it up," he said. "The key is for people to report."

City subways also saw a dramatic 340 percent jump in hate crimes, according to the NYPD's Transit Police.


Jonathan Victini-Rodriguez was arrested after making anti-transgender remarks and punching a person in the face inside club Output in Williamsburg on Jan. 2, police said. His legal aid attorney didn't respond to a request for comment immediately.

Sherlock Arana was arrested for punching two Indian women in separate incidents in January, police said. Information about his attorney was not available immediately. 

Joseph Mattarelliano, 25, flashed the high beams of his SUV at a man crossing the street in front of his car in Sheepshead Bay on Jan. 13, and then got out wielding a baseball bat and told the man to, "go back to the projects where you belong or your neighborhood in Flatbush where you came from," prosecutors said. "Leave this neighborhood you f--king ni--er, if you come back I'm going to split your head," witnesses said he said. No information about his attorney was available immediately.

Aa 16-year-old was arrested after punching a man in the face multiple times in Sheepshead Bay on Jan. 23. "Dominicans have no place in this country and you should have stayed in the Dominican Republic," he told the victim, prosecutors said.

Robin Rhodes, 57, of Massachusets, was arrested after he kicked a hijab-wearing Delta worker and yelled "F--k Islam" at JFK Airport on Jan. 25, prosecutors said.

Police arrested Joel Happle after they said he flashed a knife on a subway car in Downtown Brooklyn on Jan. 25 and "Now you f--king n---ers are gonna see, f--king n---ers, now that Trump is in power, this is what you're gonna get, you're gonna see what it's like, come here and see what you'll get you n---ers," prosecutors said. His attorney couldn't be reached for comment immediately.

► An 11-year-old was arrested on Feb. 7 in Crown Heights after he punched two people. No more details about that incident were available immediately.

John Young, 29, was arrested for two hate crimes in connection with an attack by white supremacists on twin brothers outside Lower East Side punk bar on Feb. 11, according to prosecutors. His Legal Aid attorney didn't respond to a request for comment immediately.

Kane Sekou was arrested after making anti-gay remarks and bashing a man on the head with a rock, in Fordham Heights on Feb. 21, police said. Sekou's Legal Aid attorney didn't respond to a request for comment immediately.

Christopher Morales made anti-Asian remarks and kicked a man in the back on Feb. 23 near Washington Square Park, police said. His Legal Aid attorney didn't respond to a request for comment immediately. 

In Downtown Brooklyn on Feb. 28 60-year-old Loudal Baez called a man a "f--got" and hit him with a hard object, prosecutors said. His attorney didn't respond to a request for comment immediately.

Police said they cuffed Brandon Aebersold, 33, in early March after he smashed a security guard on the head with a bottle at the Museum of Metropolitan Art and shouted at the man, "Do your job n--ger," according to prosecutors. His attorney didn't respond to a request for comment immediately. 

► In early March, Pasqual Vargas, 64, was arrested for for hate hate crimes incidents for scribbling swastikas "KKK" and "Mexicans Go Home" in Penn Station bathrooms during a month long spree, according to authorities. Information about his attorney was not available immediately.

► On March 12, Grant Leach, 26, kicked a gay man in the groin near Penn Station and asked him, "Are you a boy? What are you? You guys are fa--ots. You guys should suck d--k," prosecutors said. His Legal Aid attorney couldn't be reached for a request for comment immediately.

Patrick O'Meara, 38, attacked two transgender women trying to enter a McDonalds on March 17 in Jackson Heights, police said.

► James Jackson, 28, is accused of stabbing and killing a man in Times Square on March 20 as part of a murder spree against black men.

Staten Island chiropractor Danielle Serini was cuffed in mid-March for five hate crimes incidents after she told crossing guards that "n---ers don't belong in my neighborhood" and sent racist letters to them, prosecutors said.