Oct. 7, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
Several swastikas were scrawled onto newspaper boxes used to distribute Jewish publications in Kew Garden Hills overnight Tuesday – drawing strong condemnation from Queens elected officials.
The swastikas were discovered by a delivery worker on the corner of Kissena Boulevard and Aguilar Avenue early Wednesday – just hours after the Jewish high holiday Yom Kippur had ended, according to police and local officials.
The symbols were scribbled with a black marker on the front of around a dozen newspaper boxes located outside Aron’s Kissena Farm grocery store. Police say an unidentified individual carried out the act of vandalism sometime between 8 p.m. on Tuesday and 2:10 a.m. Wednesday.
The incident took place in a neighborhood that has a large Jewish community. The boxes targeted contained Jewish newspapers such as the Queens Jewish Link, the Bukharian Jewish Link and the Five Towns Jewish Times.
Police are investigating the incident and the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force has been notified. There have been no arrests.
Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal was the first elected official to draw attention to the swastikas when he tweeted an image of the defaced newspaper boxes early Wednesday morning — slamming the hateful act.
“We must be able to feel safe in our neighborhoods,” wrote Rosenthal. “We must do more. The continued rise of antisemitism is unsustainable and unacceptable.”
On the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, newspapers racks distributing Jewish publications were vandalized with swastikas.
We must be able to feel safe in our neighborhoods. We must do more. The continued rise of antisemitism is unsustainable and unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/WCz5wrRGar
— Daniel Rosenthal (@DanRosenthalNYC) October 6, 2022
Several other Queens elected officials criticized the hateful graffiti including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.
“Your act of hate and weakness will do nothing to intimidate our borough,” Richards tweeted. “You failed. All it will do is bring us closer together as we uplift and support Queens’ proud Jewish community, especially after the holy holidays.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng, who is a Co-Chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, said she was shocked and outraged to learn of the “disgusting” act.
“This antisemitism is completely unacceptable, especially during Yom Kippur which is the holiest day of the year in the Jewish faith,” Meng said in a statement.
“Hate will never be tolerated in Queens. There is no place for it in our borough or anywhere in our society, and we must all denounce these despicable acts whenever and wherever they occur.”
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said the vandalism was an “extremely vile act of antisemitism.”
“I stand with our Jewish community and hope the perpetrators will swiftly be brought to justice,” Hevesi said in a statement to the Queens Post. “Abhorrent acts like these can never and will never be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, the non-profit group Chaverim of Queens tweeted Thursday that its members had wiped the swastikas off the newspaper boxes. Chaverim of Queens helps with emergency situations and provides assistance to community members.
Last night @QBSPshmira alerted us to antisemitic spray paint by Aaron’s kissena farms. Our members quickly went over to assist with the cleanup. We thank the @NYPD107Pct for their quick response. #hatehasnoplace @NYPDnews @NYCMayor #onecommunity #onecity pic.twitter.com/6O4MbLey0R
— Chaverim Of Queens (@ChaverimQueens) October 6, 2022