NY governor calls vandalism at the homes of Jewish board members of the Brooklyn Museum ‘an abhorrent act of antisemitism’

The Hate Crimes Task Force of the New York Police Department is investigating several reports of antisemitic vandalism at the homes of Jewish board members of the Brooklyn Museum – including its director, a New York City law enforcement official told CNN Wednesday.

Five homes – three in Manhattan and two in Brooklyn – were vandalized Tuesday night, police said.

“We are deeply troubled by these horrible acts,” Taylor Maatman, Brooklyn Museum’s spokesperson, told CNN.

Tuesday night’s vandalism comes as the US saw the highest number of antisemitic incidents reported since The Anti-Defamation League began tracking data in 1979, according to the organization’s annual audit of antisemitism released in April.

NYC Comptroller Brad Lander posted photos on X of the vandalism Wednesday saying, “The cowards who did this are way over the line into antisemitism, harming the cause they claim to care about, and making everyone less safe.”

The images shared by Lander show the entryway of a home with its front doors and windows splattered in red paint and a sign hanging in the entrance filled with red handprints that reads, “Anne Pasternak Brooklyn Museum White Supremacist Zionist.”

Vandalism was reported outside the homes of several Jewish board members of the Brooklyn Museum, a spokesperson said. - From Brad Lander
Vandalism was reported outside the homes of several Jewish board members of the Brooklyn Museum, a spokesperson said. - From Brad Lander

Pasternak is the Brooklyn Museum’s director.

Additionally, red inverted triangles were painted on the windows and doors of the home, a symbol used by the military wing of Hamas in the recent conflict in Gaza to indicate Israeli military targets, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The symbol, sometimes used in the form of an emoji, is used in some cases to “signify support for violent Palestinian resistance against Israel.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the graffiti “an abhorrent act of antisemitism,” writing on X that New York stands “with the Jewish community in the face of hate and will continue to fight antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head.”

New York Mayor Eric Adams echoed the sentiment saying the vandalism “is not peaceful protest or free speech,” he wrote on X.

“I’m sorry to Anne Pasternak and members of @brooklynmuseum’s board who woke up to hatred like this,” he said. “I spoke to Anne this morning and committed that this hate will not stand in our city.”

The NYPD Task Force is actively investigating the incidents, poring through surveillance footage, and speaking with witnesses to gather more information.

Protests outside exhibition for those killed at Israeli music festival

The vandalism comes just one day after political leaders, locally and nationally, condemned a Monday protest outside an exhibition in Manhattan commemorating the lives of those killed at an Israeli music festival last year.

“It was pretty surreal that this protest took place outside of exhibition commemorating hundreds of lives of people that were lost,” the spokesperson, Michelle Rojas, told CNN Monday.

The exhibition commemorates those killed at the Nova Music Festival in Israel during the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

At least 260 people died during the festival attack, according to Israeli rescue service Zaka. Some attendees were taken hostage, and seen in social media videos being seized by their armed captors. The outdoor festival was supposed to be an all-night dance party, celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Demonstrators hold a rally in support of Palestine outside the Nova Music Festival Exhibition in New York City on June 10, 2024. The exhibition pays tribute to the victims of the October 7 attack by Hamas on an Israeli music festival. - Jonathan Fernandes/Sipa USA
Demonstrators hold a rally in support of Palestine outside the Nova Music Festival Exhibition in New York City on June 10, 2024. The exhibition pays tribute to the victims of the October 7 attack by Hamas on an Israeli music festival. - Jonathan Fernandes/Sipa USA

The New York City protest was part of a “Citywide Day of Rage for Gaza,” in which pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated outside museums across the city on Monday.

The protests were organized by the activist group Within Our Lifetime “in response to the ongoing genocide being carried out against the Palestinian people,” and called on demonstrators to “take autonomous action all day,” then gather at Union Square at 5 p.m.

“Across the city, the Brooklyn Museum and cultural institutions like it are drenched in the blood of Palestine’s martyrs. In their name and in their memory we call for autonomous action against these institutions all day,” the group said on X.

Israel launched ongoing attacks in Gaza after the Hamas attacks in October killed 1,200 people. More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s war against Hamas started in October, according to figures from the enclave’s health ministry.

Multiple protesters in New York City were taken into custody, and 23 were released with criminal court summons, according to the New York City Police Department. It’s unclear exactly how many protesters were arrested.

The protest was despicable and inhumane, Hochul told CNN’s Laura Coates on Wednesday.

“This is not who New Yorkers are, and we should not descend into this chaos and allow any tolerance for this disgusting, abhorrent behavior,” Hochul said.

Adams called the demonstration “pure anti-Semitism.”

“Any New Yorker who stands for peace cannot stand next to those waving Hamas and Hezbollah flags, especially at an exhibit commemorating the victims of the Nova Music Festival massacre,” he said in a post on X.

“The NYPD has overseen thousands of peaceful protests, but it is our duty to arrest anyone who breaks the law,” Adams added. “New Yorkers will always be safe here.”

The White House condemned the demonstration outside the New York exhibit along with New York Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat, who called the protesters “anti-Israel bigots” on X, and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine who called the demonstration “repulsive and vile.”

“The events at yesterday’s memorial to those murdered at the Nova music festival are outrageous and heartbreaking,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Bates added, “Profane banners of terrorist organizations should not be flown anywhere, especially not on American streets. Antisemitism has no place in the United States. This horrifying behavior is all the more reason for ‘Americans to stand united against antisemitism and hate in all its forms,’ like President Biden urgently called for at the Holocaust Memorial Museum last month.”

“On the citywide Day of Rage for Gaza today we flooded the streets, took over the subway and shut down the Nova Exhibition,” Within Our Lifetime posted on X.

The exhibit has been extended until June 22 as a result of the demonstrations to make sure more people come down to support it, Rojas said.

“It’s incredibly important for people to see that this impacted so many facets, not only in Israel but truly around the world, different countries, different communities around the world were impacted by what happened at a music festival,” Rojas said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji, Mark Morales and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.

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