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NYPD Probes Pro-Hamas Vandalism at Brooklyn Museum Director’s Home; Incident Labeled as Hate Crime

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NYPD Probes Pro-Hamas Vandalism at Brooklyn Museum Director’s Home; Incident Labeled as Hate Crime

Edited by: Fern Sidman

In the early hours of Wednesday, five pro-Hamas protesters vandalized the home of Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak, an incident now being investigated by the NYPD as a hate crime, according to a report in The New York Daily News. The suspects, clad in dark clothing and face masks, targeted Pasternak’s Brooklyn Heights residence, tossing red paint and painting inverted red triangles on her doors. This symbol, as Jewish advocate Aviva Klompas noted, is historically used by terrorists to mark their targets, the Daily News report added.

Surveillance footage released by the NYPD shows the vandals in action. The suspects not only defaced Pasternak’s home with red paint but also tied a banner to the property. The banner, covered in red handprints, read: “Anne Pasternak Brooklyn Museum White-Supremacist Zionist,” as was reported by The Daily News. This blatant act of anti-Semitism has raised serious concerns within the community and highlighted the rising tensions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The video of the vandalism was posted on the Instagram account of A15 Actions, a decentralized activist group. The group claims to disrupt economies they believe contribute to the conflict in Gaza. The information provided in The Daily News report indicated that the video, published at around 1 a.m. Thursday, was accompanied by a statement from the group, asserting that “artists and cultural workers” were responsible for the vandalism. They cited their action as a response to the Brooklyn Museum’s alleged betrayal, accusing the institution of calling the police during a protest on May 31.

The protest at the Brooklyn Museum on May 31 saw hundreds of pro-Hamas demonstrators rallying outside the institution, calling for its divestment from Israel, according to The Daily News report. The protest escalated when some activists entered the museum and set up tents inside. The situation resulted in the NYPD arresting 34 protesters. This incident has since fueled animosity towards the museum, culminating in the recent vandalism at Pasternak’s home.

Within Our Lifetime, a pro-Hamas group, has also weighed in on the incident. The group’s co-founder, Nerdeen Kiswani, claimed that during the May 31 protest, police officers tackled her and ripped off her hijab, The Daily News reported,

The NYPD has classified the vandalism at Pasternak’s home as a hate crime, reflecting the severity and symbolic nature of the attack. Pasternak is Jewish. The use of inverted red triangles and the aggressive messaging on the banner suggest a targeted attempt to intimidate and threaten, according to the report. Law enforcement is actively seeking the five suspects involved, urging anyone with information to come forward. Tips can be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

The vandalism has elicited strong reactions from various community members and organizations. Jewish advocate Aviva Klompas condemned the act, highlighting the historical context of the red triangles as a chilling reminder of terrorist tactics. The incident underscores the increasingly violent anti-Semitic atmosphere in New York City, with cultural and public institutions becoming flashpoints for protest.

Anne Pasternak, as the director of a prominent cultural institution, has become an inadvertent symbol in this conflict. The targeting of her home signifies a troubling escalation in tactics used by the pro-Hamas protestors.

Responding to the incident, a Brooklyn Museum spokesman told Hyperallergic, “The police brutality that took place here on Friday is devastating,” emphasizing that the museum did not call the police, The Daily News report said.

The vandalism of Pasternak’s home was part of a larger predawn spree that targeted the homes of several Brooklyn Museum board members. Indicated in The Daily News report, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and other elected officials condemned these actions, labeling them as “abhorrent acts of antisemitism.” Hochul announced that the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force was collaborating with the NYPD to investigate these incidents and would increase patrols in sensitive locations across the state.

Board members’ homes in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, and two locations in Manhattan were also vandalized. The report in The Daily News said that while police have not confirmed if the same five suspects were responsible for these attacks, the pattern suggests a coordinated effort.

In a related incident, 15 vandals targeted the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations on the Upper East Side. Around 6:15 a.m. Wednesday, the suspects splattered red paint on the front of the mission and fled the scene in a white U-Haul truck, The Daily News report said. Flyers left at the scene read, “The Palestinian Authority does not represent the Palestinian people, long live the intifada.” This attack, though distinct from the incidents involving the Brooklyn Museum board members, indicates a broader strategy of targeting symbolic sites connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul, and other officials have expressed their outrage over these incidents. Mayor Adams denounced the vandalism, highlighting the city’s commitment to combating hate crimes and protecting all residents, as per The Daily News. Governor Hochul emphasized the abhorrent nature of these anti-Semitic acts and the state’s proactive measures to ensure community safety.

Similarly, the German Consulate was hit with red paint early Wednesday. The Daily News reported that  flyers posted by Palestine Action US expressed a stark apology, reading, “We sincerely apologize for the genocide we are committing in Gaza.” These actions indicate a coordinated effort to target institutions perceived as complicit in the conflict.

On Monday, a protest erupted outside the Nova Exhibition, a memorial dedicated to the victims of Hamas’ attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 Israelis and the capture of hundreds of hostages. The Daily News reported that protesters waved a flag bearing Hamas’ emblem and displayed signs praising the massacre. This demonstration drew a sharp rebuke from Mayor Eric Adams and relatives of the attack victims, who visited the exhibition the following day and labeled the protest as “despicable.”

Governor Kathy Hochul and other elected officials have condemned the recent acts of vandalism as “abhorrent acts of anti-Semitism,” the Daily News report said.

 

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