CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — Tensions are high in Crown Heights, where Jewish community leaders and local NYPD brass are clashing over charges there’s been a spike in bias beatings of Jews.
“The Police Department has been characterizing racial instances in our community, downgrading them to robberies, rather than addressing the true origin of the crime,” charged Jewish Leadership Council President Barry Sugar.
But Police Department sources said that a faction within the Crown Heights Jewish community seeks to oust the 71st Precinct’s commanding officer, Inspector Frank Vega.
In the most recent area incident, 16-year-old Samuel Balkany was beaten by five black youths Jan. 18, police and Samuel say, as they shouted “Oh, little Jew boy, you think you own this neighborhood,” and “Who are you, f—ing Jew?”
“It’s hatred, it’s not a personal situation,” said Samuel, who is recovering from a head gash.
“It’s gotten more blatant and more vicious in the past year and there hasn’t been a response,” the teen added.
While Samuel said the NYPD is investigating his beating as a hate crime, one Jewish man told the Daily News he was the victim of a hate-crime beating in July that was ignored by the cops.
“I was on my way home and a man approached me and he started yelling, ”F—ing Jew. Dirty Jew. I’m gonna finish what Hitler started,“ said Moshe Kozlovsky, 20, saying he was knocked unconscious but that nothing was stolen from him.
Kozlovsky said cops lost the police report and had to let the suspect go free after arresting him. Police officials did not respond to Kozlovsky’s allegations, but an NYPD spokesman said possible hate crimes were always thoroughly investigated.
”The department aggressively pursues all hate crime allegations, and those painstaking efforts have resulted in more arrests than any other jurisdiction,“ said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. ”The NYPD takes all hate crime seriously, and our record shows it.“
Sugar, however, said he had made ”repeated requests to take our concerns seriously and those concerns have fallen on deaf ears.“ He said Vega filibustered a community council meeting last month, which resulted in a walkout of more than 200 Jews after about an hour.
”It was very obvious his intent was not to allow anybody in the Jewish community to voice their frustrations,“ he said. ”He usually only talks for about 10 minutes – not an hour.“
But precinct Community Council President Carl Cohen, who was also present, said Sugar misunderstood the proceedings.
”I don’t think it was deliberately done,“ said Cohen, who referred to himself as impartial.
”I am a black man with a Jewish name, and I am for the police, I am for the Jewish people and I am for the black people. … I call it like a see it.
“The inspector was giving a year-end speech, which takes longer. I think that [Sugar] probably reacted a little too soon,” Cohen said. “After he left, the inspector was taking questions, and he even asked if Mr. Sugar is still here.”