Leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn on Wednesday welcomed the arrest by New York City police of a 32-year-old man who violently assaulted a Hasidic Jew in the borough’s Williamsburg district on Friday night.
The United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn issued a statement thanking the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force “for their prompt and appropriate response leading to the arrest of the individual suspected of carrying out the unprovoked hate-crime attack.”
Details of the arrest of the assailant — local resident Enrique Gerena — were released at a meeting on Tuesday between Jewish community leaders and top New York police officers and politicians. The group included the NYPD’s 90th Precinct Commanding Officer Capt. Timothy Skretch, NYPD Hate Crime Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Mark C. Molinari, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, NYC Jewish Caucus Chair Councilman Chaim Deutsch and Pinny Ringel from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Community Assistance Unit.
Friday night’s incident occurred as the victim was walking home from Shabbat services with his young son. When he stopped to greet a friend on Throop Avenue, Gerena allegedly ran up behind the victim, landing a brutal punch to the back of the head and instantly flooring him. The victim has since made a recovery.
Gerena’s arrest came amid growing fear of antisemitic violence among Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jews. At Tuesday’s meeting, participants discussed what Jewish community leaders present described as “the recent wave of hate crimes presently rocking the neighborhood, leaving community members increasingly concerned about going out, especially at night.”
Rabbi David Niederman — president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn — said on Wednesday that the “hate wave has to stop. Fortunately, the NYPD and our elected officials are determined to join forces to do whatever is needed to stop it.”
In a statement, Rabbi Niederman added: “We are seeing a spike in antisemitic attacks across the city. Young Hasidic kids shouldn’t be afraid simply because of their Jewish faith of monstrous attacks when walking home.”