New Councilwoman: Blacks Resent Being ‘Pushed Out’

Laurie Cumbo, the newly elected councilwoman for New York City’s 35th District – which includes Crown Heights – was interviewed for an article that appeared in The Jewish Week regarding the attacks by African-Americans against Jewish residents of Crown Heights.

Showing remarkable insensitivity to the community she represents in the City Council, she responded by figuratively placing the blame for the attacks on the Jewish community, saying the African-Americans in Crown Heights harbor resentment toward the Jewish community because they feel they are being ‘pushed out’ by Jewish landlords.

While the entire article is a worthwhile read, we have highlighted the relevant paragraphs for your convenience:

The Jewish Week – by Jonathan Mark

In recent weeks, an opaque two-line prayer began to jump out from the siddur at Crown Heights chasidim: “Al tirah,” “Don’t be afraid of sudden terror when it comes,” for come it will.

It has been coming, without warning, for weeks: A surprise and powerful punch to a random chasid’s face by a random young perpetrator — at least eight times in Crown Heights, according to police, with at least three punch-outs to Jews elsewhere in Brooklyn. The punch often leaves the Jew unconscious, crumpled on the sidewalk. Nothing is stolen. Often nothing is said. Young blacks call it the “knockout game.” Young black teens, their faces blurred to defy identification, told WCBS television that kids do it because they  think “it’s fun.” “They just want to see if you got enough strength to knock somebody out.”

In several recent incidents, terror has come to chasidic families on Friday nights. Towards midnight, as the family sleeps, thieves use automobile jacks to pry open the window bars of private homes, stealing the silver and anything else that can be carried.

Terror comes with a rock thrown at a young boy’s head; with a hot cup of coffee, in a paper bag, thrown at the face of a yeshiva boy on his way to school; with a broomstick beating the head of an older woman; with another woman told to cross the street or be stabbed. Devorah Halberstam, whose son Ari was shot in 1994 by an Arab gunman on the Brooklyn Bridge, admitted that coming home late at night, last week, she ran the block-and-half from her car to her home.

Twenty years after the riots and violent home invasions of 1991, a palpable tension is back in Crown Heights. Police wear riot helmets as they watch from horseback. A Brooklyn South police command van is parked on the corner of Kingston Avenue and Eastern Parkway. In the night, a half-dozen police cars, red lights whirling as the cars are idling, wait outside 770 Eastern Parkway, Chabad Lubavitch headquarters.

Is “knockout” anti-Semitic? It feels that way to many, but it may be more racial than anything else. There have knockouts from St. Louis to Syracuse, always with black punchers and white victims (and seven dead ones), but only in New York have all the victims been Jewish. Blacks also call the game “Polar Bear Hunting” because the victims are white.

New York police have been cautious with linking the New York crimes to the national ones. Asked about knockout, Chief Owen Monaghan of Brooklyn South told us, “There have been a series of assaults. That’s what we’re talking about. The knockout issue is significant in other areas, as we’ve seen on the Internet, but we’re dealing with specific crimes right here and that’s being actively being investigated by the hate crimes task force.”

The blacks of Crown Heights have “grievances,” that most haunted of urban words. Laurie Cumbo, 38, who is black and newly elected to the City Council representing part of Crown Heights, told us that when she was campaigning she heard many in the African-American and Caribbean community complaining that “Many of the buildings are owned by the Jewish community and [black tenants felt] there was a deliberate movement to push them out of their homes. What they would say to me is [the Jews are] doing this, not fixing that, making noise, they’re trying to push me out.’

“They tell me, ‘You better do something about this.’ They fear an ultimate takeover,” Cumbo continues. “Many [blacks living in private homes] talk about how proud they are, that no matter how many ‘bags of money’ were brought to their doors [by Jews] to buy their homes, they’re not selling.”

Young blacks might be picking up on the resentment. “It may be one of those things,” says Cumbo, “that when they come home their parents are talking, ‘those damn Jews,’ not that they’re talking to the kids but kids hear.”

Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, says of the landlord and real estate charges, “I don’t hear that kind of complaint.” Whoever says that “is living 20 years in the past,” when the complaints were first widely heard, coincidentally or not, at the time of the riot.

As for “bags of money,” he says, “Look, you may have individuals going around to see what homes are available, but there’s no systematic effort to displace people. That is just not going on.”

On many of the street lamps are posters for Yud Tet Kislev, a chasidic day for spiritual elevation, and posters from the Guardian Angels safety patrol for the more earthly danger: “Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid being distracted by cell phone or electronic devices. If you are a victim… call the police from a safe location.”

On the sidewalk outside the Kol Tuv (“It’s all good!”) grocery, a chasid explains, “There’s been cell phone snatchings. They would just come up from behind and grab it out of your hand. So, initially the reaction was, OK, we won’t use our phones out in the open. … Now this is worse. With knockout, they are not even looking to take anything but just inflict harm. My wife and I had a conversation about being afraid to go out at night. My son walks home from school and I tell him to walk with his friends. It’s frightening. Absolutely frightening.”

The Crown Heights Jewish Community Council invited more than 70 blacks, Jews, educators, clergy and politicians to a summit meeting last week over breakfast.

Some of the black school principals said what was needed was dialogue and education. “Yeah,” said Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, “we need to do all those things. … But people in this community were attacked [and] adults were belted in the face. … It’s a pretty incredible thing that we have to explain that its not OK to belt people in the street… I’m all for teaching the kids, but something that would be more effective would be arrests. … I remember 1991, what happened in this community. People called it a pogrom. There was Jewish blood in the street.”

(After last week’s knockout attack of a Jewish man in Borough Park, the first in that neighborhood, police arrested Amrit Marajh, 28. Released on $750 bail, Marjh claimed innocence and said he even had a Jewish girlfriend.)

Cumbo said violent behavior “is not to be tolerated… At the same time, we don’t want to ruin the lives of young people who are too young to understand. We want to do this in such a way that this kind of immature and dangerous behavior does not condemn individuals for the rest of their lives.” She called for black-Jewish dialogue. “Perhaps a basketball tournament, perhaps a youth panel discussion, where young people can talk about each other’s culture.”

After the breakfast, one Jewish participant, who asked not to be identified, was incredulous: “Basketball? A youth conversation? If women were being raped here, would we tell the women to dialogue with young men before we caught the rapists? If there was a Ku Klux Klan rally, we would tell young blacks to play sports with whites, until we knew which of the white kids was at such a rally?”

Rev. Al Sharpton, still despised by many Jews in Crown Heights for his anti-Semitic speeches and inflammatory marches during the Crown Heights riot, was not at the summit but nevertheless issued a strong statement condemning the knockouts this past week: “This kind of behavior is deplorable… We would not be silent if it was the other way around. We cannot be silent or in any way reluctant to confront it when it is coming from our own community. Kids are randomly knocking out people [from] another race — some specifically going at Jewish people. This kind of insane thuggery –there is nothing cute about that.”

On the sidewalk outside the Kol Tuv, olive oil Chanukah candles were on sale. In the gloaming, young girls in long skirts were walking home from school and mothers pushed baby carriages. Yellow school buses from United Lubavitcher Yeshiva rolled down Montgomery Street. Chasidic clarinet music was piped into the streets.

All over Crown Heights, it was time for evening prayer in the shuls and shtiebels. “Don’t be afraid of the sudden terror,” though come it will. This is a world of brokenness and mystery, but blessed is the God “who brings on the darkness.”


  • 1. wow wrote:

    well this means when you have issues just be as violent and have a temper tantrum like a 2 year old so you can get your way.

    instead of working things out this councilwoman just takes a cheap shot at jews . face it everyone these days thinks its open season on the jews. yes its just sooooooooooo convenient!! so easy!! just do a verbal pogrom so you dont have to work on yourself…. just a thought….

  • 2. This woman's a disgrace. wrote:

    According to her warped logic, let’s say that it’s the other way around. Because of some African-Americans in the community who are assaulting and stealing, Jews are going around with their money bags to ensure a safer community.
    Yeah, right.
    Why must we put up with these biased, twisted officials??

  • 3. Pacifist wrote:

    Eli Cohen
    Failed shliach.
    Hater of the establishment.
    Involved in every machlokes in town.
    Now soft-talking an obvious anti-Semitic women.

    • 6. CHLEAKS.COM wrote:

      The fact is we are a minority of a minority and they are complaining that we are pushing them out?

      If only it was true and out landlords were making room for their own. Sadly it’s not true. Pure baseless hate coming out of the black “community”.

  • 8. She is unreal! wrote:

    Again putting blame on innocent people! How disgusting! SHE is disgusting! Teach those Animals to be humans!! Don’t justify them! Put them in Jail and throw away the keys! oh my! this is unfortunately just the beginning! Jews arm yourselves!

  • 11. jewish dude wrote:

    Ms Cumbo needs to be recalled or prosecuted for antisemitic incitement. It is always the jewish person fault. Never ever is it the non jewish person fault. Lets file a complaint with the city.

    • 12. Milhouse wrote:

      New York has no recalls. And there’s nothing she can be prosecuted for. Antisemitism isn’t a crime, and you clearly have no idea what “incitement” means.

      No, unfortunately we’re stuck with her for four years, and we can thank those who voted for her.

  • 13. Oh, the irony! wrote:

    This is the woman who had to publicly distance herself from Jobs for New York, a powerful real estate PAC. She gives two cookies about black people being pushed out of their homes. She just doesn’t want to upset 75% of her constituents, so she assigns blame for blatant racism on non-existent problems.

    My favorite part: “It may be one of those things,” says Cumbo, “that when they come home their parents are talking, ‘those damn Jews,’ not that they’re talking to the kids but kids hear.” So racism is ok, as long as it’s only about Jews in your own home. Teaching racism to your children is fine, too, as long as it’s only indirectly. Way to go, Ms. Cumbo. Dr. King would be proud.

  • 14. No Justification wrote:

    There is no justification for random assaults. But the quotation of the new councilwoman doesn’t mention these grievances as being a justification. It may very well be a quotation taken out of context.

    • 15. Kiva wrote:

      Of course they are a justficication. What else are they besides for invoking old Anti-Semitic stereotypes involving Jews and their moneybags?

    • 16. MJ wrote:

      It’s hard to tell exactly what she said to the Jewish Week since they have an anti-religious bias. This is a newspaper that has an obsession with female “rabbis” and homosexuals and never misses the opportunity to portray the frum community in a bad light, so who knows?

  • 17. yankel wrote:

    she is talking about her new friend (landlord) Chanino Sperlin. Thanks sperlin for endorsing her and all of the other anti-semites.

  • 18. Just saying wrote:

    Someone needs to remind this uneducated idiot of a few things.

    The Jews were here many many years unti….

    Evrey single private house has a sign of a mezuzah once being there. You can use your own imaginatitn why those original owners ran.

    As far as some buildings being Owend by Jews. We’ll I say to you that this is a very free country and no one is stoping you from owning or operating a building. In fact there are many buildings owned by African Americans who will not let any Jews in. In fact the building on president and Brooklyn is one such building.

    In adtion I do work for a few African From the caribien who own buildings. And refuse to rent to any African Americans. So lady get your facts straight.

  • 19. I warned you wrote:

    You voted her in. You fell for the hype, you stupid prople will never learn and now you will have to live with it for the next few years. Good luck to you.

  • 20. Chana wrote:

    May Hashem watch over us all, constantly, may He keep us from all harm, and hopefully this whole scary episode will soon be in the past, and things will be back to normal, as we know it to be, without this fear and uncertainty all the time that is prevalent right now
    Besurois tovos

  • 21. No Excuse wrote:

    People are being priced out in other states besides blacks. Why you used to this as an excuse?

  • 22. there is a boss wrote:

    we need to help elect politicians who support all of crown Heights [and for that matter all of the city and Israel] and nudge the ones in office to realise the benefit of representing all of the people of their district..

  • 23. Not this old canard wrote:

    Know your history Ms. Combo, this was a solidly Jewish neighborhood, way before any others lived in this neighborhood. The Jews just came home again.

  • 25. Anti semite wrote:

    Happy now? Thank Chanina Sperlin & the others who praised this anti-semite to the skies. Where are they now? Hiding as usual.

  • 27. CH RESIDENT wrote:


  • 29. EXCUSES and NONSENSE. wrote:

    B.H. Laurie Combo, does not know how to deal with this KNOCKOUT situation, and she sides with her Black Bretheren and puts up with their utter garbage.
    Teach these criminals a lesson, put them in Boot Camp,
    or a Juvenenile Facility, and Incarcerate them, and stop blaming the Jews.

  • 30. nh wrote:

    she seems to be inexeperienced, which is a silly type choice to make for such a complicated issue. We have jews, who have a rich yet tortured past, and we have the blacks who have their own backgrounds, and are experiencing alot of tragedy and difficulty nowadays. We all are having a hard time, and we really don’t need someone who is not experienced enough to come up with real creative ideas of how to get our community going towards the potential it has.

  • 31. What??? wrote:

    Cant beleive what I’m hearing. Guess what I remember when Crownheights was mostly white and jewish and we were basically pushed out by the blacks.
    DID WE GO BEAT ON THEM??? The audacity to make this a black jewish issue. Just disgusting.
    These black children need supervision from their homes. Most of them aint gettin it cuz u know why. The mommas have a few husbands who fathered each of their kids. They are busy sleeping around, drinking booze or doing drugs, while collecting welfare.
    Very few are out there working. The children are not instilled with moral values. Change is needed, not finger pointing miss cumbo.

  • 32. ruvi wrote:

    LITTLE DOES AHE KNOW THE WHITES ARE BUYING ALL HOUSES BEFORE THE JEWS AND that is just free market. It also has pushed up the prices of houses so blacks can sell their old run down houses and make hu profits… Everyone wins

  • 33. So its the Jew's fault! dont speak out and condemn this "game" no... rather tell the jew to suck it up and turn the other cheek wrote:

    When the thugs have leaders who try white-washing the thuggery, that reckless leadership encourages more violence! no wonder these youth get jailed soo often, with such bright and courageous leaders, what else do you expect!

  • 34. Boy. From the hood wrote:

    I love. It the. Blacks. Deal with stuf
    BECUSE whites and Jews want to
    Buy there homes . And THEY feel
    It’s ok to use terrorizing to show there
    Upset ness ?
    There not saying how they burnt mattress in back Jewish homes in the 60s so the Jews sold there home for peanuts . And ran to Boro park
    No we are paying higher prices BECUSE they know these. Jews want to live here
    So they are making $ hand over fist
    For there home .
    Hey littel girl I am in this hood 45years
    B4 you were born ms coumbo

  • 35. Sad wrote:

    No, we don’t ever want to see someone’s face slumped against the pavement near our home. That doesn’t make you a light among the nations. You don’t want to be vengeful and crass. What do you gain?

  • 36. Elder of zion wrote:

    Jews coming with bags of money??? Besides the crazines of what she is saying does she believe the basic jew stereotype that they run the world with their money? If yes then are problems are much worse and deeper rooted then you think

    • 37. Kiva wrote:

      It’s not just the money bags, she really thinks that Jews are taken over the place and that that’s a bad thing.

      Imagine if you reverse what she said and had a Jewish politician complaining about the amount of black people in the neighborhood. How racist would that be?

  • 38. ITS OK TO ATTACK JEWS, bec they show up offering BAGS of cash wrote:


    possibly even borderline justifying and encouraging more attacks!!

  • 39. Can't believe this wrote:

    Reminds me of mayor dinkins’ reaction to the ch riots
    Blamed it in us
    Let them “vent ” and place us under siege for a whole week without any police intervention!

  • 40. What about... wrote:

    What about when the black’s were were driving out the white’s n the 60’s and 70’s?

  • 41. Ms. Cumbo wrote:

    A disgrace! Her statement are clearly anti-semetic and she doesn’t even realize! What is even worse is she is closing her eyes to the real problems that are causing violence in our neighborhood!

  • 42. slp wrote:

    does she really have any experience at all? She needs to know how to rise above all the lies and the games, and make a plan which will benefit people, not play the games of the dysfunctionals

  • 43. old timer wrote:

    ah, reminds me of the year 1991 when our duly elected officials and the American Jewish establishment blamed us, the victims, for causing the Pogrom of Crown Heights.

    alle yevanim hobben ein panim…

  • 44. ugh! wrote:

    Face it . there is no leadership by the black community.

    where is the community council? well there is no leadership by us either if no one is saying anything.

    this is not going to go away and Diblasio is only going to make it worse…

  • 48. Ch'er wrote:

    a) What this woman is saying about blacks being pushed out of our community isn’t true.

    b) Even if what she says were true – a dignified human being doesn’t resort to violence because he/she is offended, hurt, slighted, angry etc.

    Any politician who excuses violence as a means of expressing any of the above sentiments isn’t fit to serve as a servant of the public.

  • 49. TO BE HONEST wrote:


  • 50. MaidofCH wrote:

    Ironically, a CH friend of mine who was looking for tenants ended up renting to blacks, because they had jobs & so many Chassidim didn’t. So to imply that frum Jews own, rent, or buy all the property in CH is absurd.

  • 51. laughing here wrote:

    Play a game of basketball, have a cultural exchange??????? Are you kidding?? You think that’s what we are interested in? Or they are??

    What if the tables were turned? The whole city would be in an uproar. But hey, if a couple of Jews get “knocked out” no biggie, right?

  • 52. 11213 wrote:

    Think she needs to clarify with facts why she made those statements. Press conference. Debate?

  • 53. She has very poor judgement wrote:

    Making excuses, trying to justify, white wash, play down the thuggery bec they have grievances…

  • 54. no surprise wrote:

    Again, enabling blacks to do criminal activities with no repercussions for their actions. Excuse them with the any excuse even when that excuse makes no logical sense at all, and say it is because of that, that it is ok for them to terrorize and hurt people.

    I would say unbelievable, but its been done so many times that, even though I am not surprised, I still shake my head in disbelief.

    As far as housing. Nothing wrong in making offers to people, if they want to sell they sell if not they have a right to say no. No one is threatening anybody, that would be wrong. I get many offers on my house, I say no. As far as apartment buildings. If you don’t pay rent, if you deal with drugs, if you vandalize, you tell me what landlord doesn’t have a right to get rid of those types of tenants. No one throws out a good tenant. And with New York laws, its next to impossible to get rid of a tenant, even a tenant from Hell. So being “pushed” just doesn’t wash. Does this woman have an IQ of minus 2? does she even hear herself? Shame on her.

  • 55. Make laws that prevent biased politicians from holding office. wrote:

    Laurie needs to clarify her statements. I hope this is a big misunderstanding. There needs to be laws that disallow biased politicians from holding office.

  • 56. Will the real Laurie please stand up? wrote:

    I was impressed by her words in the press conference regarding the so called knockout game. This new stuff has me questioning her. Very wrong of her to promote anti jewish stereotypes.

    “I am devastated that our children have made the decision to attack members of our community through what they call ‘the knockout game.’ They don’t realize that the lives of those that they have assaulted will never be the same unlike a video game. They don’t realize that their own lives will also never be the same because they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I am devastated because we as a community have failed our children anytime they feel that they have so little value for their own life that they could attack another member of the community. It is critical in our new administration that we provide our young people with the resources to channel their talents and dreams and to create opportunities to learn about one another so that we can build one community where we can all grow together and learn from one another.”

  • 57. TRUE COLORS wrote:

    She also would not call the Crown Heights “Knockout” attacks a “hate crime” when asked about this on a recent Aaron Klein radio show.

    She was more worried about the effects on the lives of the perps if they got arrested!

    I wonder what tripe she sold her non-African-American constituents in order to get elected.


  • 59. Hilarious wrote:

    That people will complain about a black representative voicing concerns of the community, and trust in Dov Hikind, a man who opening goes to parties in BLACKFACE and routinely uses racial slurs to denigrate blacks.

    Are we trusting Arafat to give a fair depiction of Israelis, or Kim Jun Un as a valid voice on South Koreans? Then why even take the word of Dov Hikind and Crown Heights anti-black community members?

    • 60. Beth wrote:

      Hilarious, you are the ONE voice of reason in all these comments. Maybe if the Lubovitch community wasn’t so insular and racist, there could be cooperation among the communities in Crown Heights, instead of animosity.


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