Hastily called, sparsely attended, but 'this is only a start'

Forum enlists youth to fight against hate

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On a chilly night last week, a small but quietly spirited group of parents, students and other community members gathered at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School for an anti-hate forum hosted by state Sen. Jeffrey Klein.

Joining him were some other leaders like Councilman Andrew Cohen as well as members of the Fieldston Property Owners Association. 

The little-noticed event came in the wake of what police are calling a hate crime when, on the morning of Sept. 10, a Fieldston homeowner, whose daughter works as an assistant state attorney general, stepped out of his West 246th Street home to pick up the Sunday paper only to discover someone had spray-painted the word “Jew” on his front door. 

“What we need to do is start a dialogue among young people,” Klein said at the outset. “We shouldn’t fight diversity. We need to celebrate it.”

What was less clear, however, was why it seemed this meeting was thrown together almost at the last minute by Klein’s office — so short, in fact, that Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz couldn’t make it because of a prior commitment, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel had to back out at the last second. 

Klein said he organized the event at the urging of Fieldston community president Jeff Mueller, who contacted not just the senator, but also Cohen, Engel and Dinowitz. 

Yet, even Mueller couldn’t attend because of a family emergency.

Many who were asked to attend seemed unable to share when exactly they were invited to the forum, which wasn’t even shared with The Riverdale Press until the morning of the event.

That invitation came after Klein’s office was asked to comment on a Politico story that identified the senator as receiving more earmarks than any other state legislative official — receiving more than five times what Democrats in the senate were able to scrounge, combined. 

Engel’s public affairs director Bryant Daniels attended in his stead, yet the congressman couldn’t recall specifically when he first learned of Klein’s forum.

“I don’t think everything was finalized until over the weekend,” Engel said. “The event was put together by Sen. Klein’s office, so we can’t speak for when or how they organized it.”

But no one should be discouraged by the sparse turnout either.

“It’s very hard to get the word out on things like that,” Engel said. “But I think it’s better to have had the forum than to have not had it at all. It’s not one-and-done. This is only a start, and whether a thousand people attend or 50, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re not sweeping it under the rug.”

Using surveillance cameras and other investigative tools, police arrested a teenager, Jared Lewis, on Sept. 13. He was charged as an adult with committing a hate crime. 

Seeing that such vandalism came from someone so young prompted Klein to act, he said.

“Riverdale has a solid Jewish community, so I thought it was important, especially given the most recent incident … to engage young people,” Klein added. “A lot of these kids don’t even know what a swastika is and what it means to someone who was a Holocaust survivor or a Jew or a relative of Holocaust survivors like myself.” 

Klein pointed to his own efforts — for example, allocating $856,000 in state funding toward Project Boost, an academic and cultural enrichment program for late elementary, middle and high school students from disadvantaged neighborhoods — to increase intercultural awareness among young people in the northwest Bronx. But Klein also called for grassroots participation by those in the community, from teachers to parents and their children, and said he intends to start a program that would expand beyond Fieldston into all of the area schools, focusing on diversity and cross-cultural understanding through food, music and trips.

“I think the idea of having kids in school visit a mosque, a synagogue, a Catholic church to learn about religion is very helpful because they may not be learning this at home,” Klein said. “Or maybe these negative attitudes are coming from home.”

Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale offered optimism. “From this incident, there can come light. The key is that you stand up when there’s racism in the community.”

But Weiss noted this isn’t the first time something like what happened to the Fieldston home has plagued the community. Indeed, Klein pointed to 2009 when the FBI uncovered a bomb plot targeting two Riverdale synagogues — the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Center.

50th Precinct deputy inspector Terence O’Toole also attended the meeting, warning the gathering “we can’t get caught up in the mob mentality.”

O’Toole later told The Press Fieldston residents need not be concerned about a potential rise in hate crimes, noting two others were reported at the beginning of the year, “but nothing exceptional.”

“They’re all rather juvenile,” he said. “There’s nothing terrible about it. It’s terrible in the way they’ve been doing it, but a drunk 16-year-old writing ‘Jew’ on a door and his two friends saying, ‘What’re you doing that for?’ — it’s a hate crime, but we don’t think he was really biased. But we can’t judge that.

CORRECTION: The home that was vandalized in Fieldston in September was located on West 246th Street. A story in the Oct. 26 edition stated an incorrect address.

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TruthTeller

I don't understand a few things here:

1) Why is it never mentioned that the perp, JARED LEWIS, is in all liklihood Jewish, making this incident either one of two things....a) Another example of many out there of fake hoax hate crimes perpetrated by members of their own community......or b) As O'Toole keeps on obliquely saying just a drunk idiot (still probably Jewish) pulling an idiotic kids prank.

2) Why politicians like Dinowitz and Engel, both members of the ancient, tired, old and decrepit corrupt Democratic machine that is way past its expiration date didn't just tell the truth about why they didn't go? They both know it was a fake incident and should have just said so and moved on. They clearly didn't want to give the incident any more press than it deserved.

3) Why Cohen, the absolute imbecile that he is, still feels the need to pull stunts like this. Cohen, I know intelligence is not your strong suit, but man, we see thru this for what it is.....a grimy publicity stunt to keep the fake narrative going that we are living in "dangerous times" since Trump was elected.

FOr those uninitiated into the ways of fake hate hoax crimes, there have been tons of examples of this very same thing happening in the past 10 years or so, all in the service of keeping us divided along racial lines. Blacks have hung nooses on their own doors, Black Lives Matter activists have written horrific "Eff Ni@@ers" on walls to blame police, and yes, Jews have written swastikas on their own doors.

I don't know what leads mentally unstable people to do this, but it is a mental health issue, not a public issue, and as such Cohen needs to do his friggin homework, stop with the Sorosian and Clintonian tactics of divide and conquer, and get busy with the work of making the life of the average Riverdalian a little better. Stunts like these in the Trump era just ain't gonna work anymore. So many of us have woken up to the fake news and narratives that it just makes you look silly Andrew. This isn't the 90's anymore, or even the noughts or early teens. Alt-media is kicking the ass of the mainstream media and it's only a matter of time before your ilk is rightly in the dustbin of history. Thank god that finally the fake news media has caught up with the alt-media in reporting on yet another Clinton and Democrat scandal with Russian collusion. How's that Mueller investigation going? About the only person who wasn't named so far is Trump. LOL!!!

Friday, October 27
Unknown

Truth Teller.. Its not mentioned that the "perp" is Jewish because he is a young black male not Jewish at all....

Friday, October 27
Michael Hinman

Hello, everyone!

I am going to give one blanket notification to everyone as the comments start to come in that the moment it gets out of hand, comments are shut down.

So please make sure that we are talking about the story, not the way people look, or posting links to other things, or any of that. This is a discussion specifically about this story, and nothing more.

Thanks for your help in keeping this comment area civil, so that everyone can participate in a respectful manner.

Friday, October 27
CelticWoman

Michael Hinman many of us are curious as to what Jared Lewis' background is, especially if he is in fact Jewish.

Friday, October 27
TruthTeller

@ Unknown, sorry buddy, but the perp is Jared Lewis, who was the caucasian in the video who did the crime. The African American and Hispanic individuals he was with actually turned him in and as such need to be applauded. Get your facts straight before posting.

And I do agree with Celtic Woman that stating the religion of the perpetrator, JARED LEWIS, would have gone a long way towards putting this story into proper perspective and as such, I am shocked that the editorial staff of the RP refuses to mention it. I can only ask why that is, not make any statement as to what their motivation is. It's very relevant to the story I think.

Friday, October 27
Unknown

@truth Teller Sorry buddy, I actually know the boy. SO my facts are correct.

Friday, October 27
Michael Hinman

To answer the question about why we are not listing the religious affiliation of a crime suspect — we don't do it for anyone else, so we would not do it here.

Also, a hate crime (despite its name) is not defined by someone "hating" a group they don't belong to. Hate crime, especially as it's defined in the New York penal code (and federal law) relates to the actions, not the motivation.

The argument against having hate crimes on the book is that we're now convicting people based on what's in their brain (although that is the case in other crimes, like murder for instance). However, the motivation is not a necessary component in charging someone with a hate crime — it's simply the act of targeting someone because of what they know (or believe) to be that person's "race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct."

The law, which you can find at S. 485.05, makes no mention that the person accused of the crime cannot be a part of that same group.

If I threw a rock at a group of people wearing yarmulkes with the intent to hurt someone, and I did it solely because they were wearing yarmulkes, I absolutely could be charged with committing a hate crime despite the fact that I, myself, am Jewish. My association with the group does not negate a hate crime under state and federal laws.

I hope that explains, then, why the suspect's religion is immaterial to our reporting.

Friday, October 27
TruthTeller

Fair enough Michael, although as a jewish man myself I vociferously disagree with your stated reasons. These crimes take on a very different dimension when it is revealed that they are "self inflicted" because the Kleins and Cohen's of the world are trying to use this to perpetuate the narrative that there is a neo-Nazi resurgance since Trump was elected. They're not stupid enough to say it outright anymore, but that is their motive. This is why publicizing that a Jewish boy did this would be in the public interest, which is what I thought newspapering was all about. Anyhow, you answered and I'll take your explanation as you gave it, but again, I and many others apparently, disagree. I guess it doesn't matter anyway since Jared Lewis is quite obviously a Jewish name and he was the one publicly identified as the perpetrator. The two kids with him were publicly identified as his friends who had nothing to do with his actions and actually turned him in.

Friday, October 27
Unknown

Just because a name sounds "Jewish" does not mean the person is Jewish. Again., Jared Lewis is IN FACT NOT Jewish. This is a fact. Obviously, your not interested in hearing the truth and trying to stir some agenda of your own. I

Friday, October 27
Unknown

I do know the child in question. He is not a bad kid, he did something stupid id all. But he is not Jewish, I promise you that. I have no agenda. But believe what you want, because apparently you know everything and are not interested in the truth. I have no agenda and nor do I care to argue. But I really hate to tell you how wrong you are.

Friday, October 27
UnKnown

OK, Jared Lewis was arrested that is correct, also correct IS HE IS African American NOT Caucasian. Just because you can google the origin of a name does not mean that is what the person is. I have no reason to LIE, I know the child as I stated. The bottom line is HE IS NOT JEWISH... Its that simple. Call me a liar but the fact is you are incorrect and you do not want to hear the truth... And my story never wavered. Jared is not CAUCASIAN. His parents liked the name.. TO state that minuscule amounts of people that are not Jewish use that name sounds so ignorant. SO stop trying to cause problems. Either you want to know the truth or you do not. its that simple.

Friday, October 27
TruthTeller

So Rabbi Weiss says this in the article:

"But Weiss noted this isn’t the first time something like what happened to the Fieldston home has plagued the community. Indeed, Klein pointed to 2009 when the FBI uncovered a bomb plot targeting two Riverdale synagogues — the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Center."

My previous comment was deleted, probably because I linked to a video, but anybody with even a shred of knowledge about the 2009 bomb plots know it was an FBI entrapment scheme from start to finish. There is even a documentary about it.

So when you hear people using the chimera of "terrorist" attacks that were fake, it really makes me suspect as to their motivations in this case.

Friday, October 27
Michael Hinman

Just to note:

While there were claims that James Cromitie's group may have been entrapped by the FBI, such claims were not accepted by judges hearing the appeals of the convictions. In fact, the appeals judges rejected that claim.

Friday, October 27
TruthTeller

All true, but if you're using US judges as the arbiter of truths you're on very shaky ground. After all, judges put Rosa Parks and MLK in jail. Judges also freed OJ. Leonard Peltier is in jail because of a judge. In other words, the rulings of judges often has no bearing whatsover on truth. I believe the amazing reportage on the entrapment of the Newburgh 4 and so do millions of others. what some politically connected judge did.

And I sincerely hope this doesn't get deleted but I just found a quote that the sentencing judge made in Cromitie's case. Even if it's just you who sees it, that's fine with me.

"Even Judge Colleen McMahon – who put the Newburgh Four behind bars – slammed the FBI. "Only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr Cromitie, a man whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope," she said in court. She added: "I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that there would have been no crime here except the government instigated it, planned it and brought it to fruition.""

Friday, October 27
TruthTeller

So if "unkown" is to be believed, the African American was arrested in this case. Ok, let's for the sake of argument take that as fact.

Then why, in this Riverdale Press article

http://riverdalepress.com/stories/cops-arrest-teen-in-vandalism-case,63527?

does it have a big fat red line around the suspect, who is clearly white? I have seen no retraction or correction made, leading me to believe that the perp was in fact the person marked in red in the article above.

So this means two possible things:

1) The police and Riverdale Press got it totally wrong and never issued a public correction or....

2) Unknown is lying.

Which is it?

Friday, October 27
Unknown

Ok you are right I’m lying. Unreal the redline around the child is not the actual child that was arrested, that kid is not Jared Lewis. That was one of his friends. Jared is the one on the far left. But anyway believe what you will. I know the kids. But you are right I’m a liar. I have no reason to continue to argue. I have lots to benefit from telling you a lie. Have a good night.

Friday, October 27
TruthTeller

Well, I still don't believe you, but if you're telling the truth then the RP needs to correct that picture and make a correction to the story. So do the police. Lemme know when that happens please.

Friday, October 27
Unknown

Where exactly did the police say that the kid circled in red is Jared Lewis??? Or are you just assuming because they have someon circled that, that is in fact whom they are referencing??? Yes they did arrest Jared Lewis but it’s not the circled child. and the press should make a correction if they are stating that is Jared. I just think that’s the only photo they had and he was circled because that’s the best shot of the three when they were trying to figure out who did Iotnpeior to the attests. Because I am not lying. But maybe someday you will learn the truth....

Friday, October 27
CelticWoman

The only reason why I question the religion of Jared Lewis is because all too often white Christians are blamed for every single "hate" crime out there. Almost always the fingers point at this group of people. There have been numerous incidents of so called racist graffiti and acts of racism such as nooses that were done by the very group claiming hate. It just happened at the Air Force Academy (black male student wrote black racist comments) and a black Kansas State U student tagged his car up with derogatory comments. Don't get me wrong - plenty of white Christians have committed inexcusable atrocities against other faiths and races. In no way is that behavior acceptable.

As a white Christian, I am sick and tired of my people being blamed for acts of racism when it has not been in fact true. The nationality and/or religion of Jared Lewis is an important part of this crime.

If he is white and Jewish, would would he do that? And if he is black, and probably Christian, not only why did he do it but why is it being covered up? Let's be real for a moment - if this were a white kid, specifically a white Christian kid, it would have made front page news of every major NYC paper as well as TV.

Wednesday, November 8