State Police task force investigating hate crimes against Asian man and Bronx synagogues

Photo provided by the Governor’s Office
March 01, 2017- Albany, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo tours and addresses Hate Crime increase in New York State and across county at Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center in Albany. Cuomo has directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes task Force to investigate three recent incidents of apparent hate crimes in New York City late last week.

As a surge of hate crimes escalates across the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is directing the New York State Police Hate Crime Force to aid in the investigation of two separate incidents of violence toward an Asian American man as well as vandalism at two synagogues in the Bronx.

“We have no tolerance for discriminatory acts that seek to divide us rather than bring us together,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The racially motivated Anti-Asian hate crime occurred on Friday, April 23 when 61-year-old, Yao Pan Ma was attacked while collecting cans on the street in East Harlem. Ma was attacked from behind and repeatedly stomped on by the attacker. He lay unconscious until a bus driver noticed him on the ground and called police.

“We stand united with the Asian American community which has always been an important part of our diverse identity as a state,” Cuomo said following reports of the attack.

Lawmakers and advocacy groups have been pushing legislation that would allow for more thorough investigations into hate crimes. The legislation, titled The Hate Crimes Analysis and Review Act (S.70/A.2230) has yet to pass on the Assembly floor.

But even with all of the support and new legislation, hate crimes continue to rise. According to a release from Stop AAPI Hate, an organization advocating for the prevention of anti-Asian hate crimes, over 11 percent of all hate crimes directed toward Asian American communities are physical assault.

Asian communities are not the only ones being targeted; religious communities are as well. Two synagogues in the Bronx were victim to recent acts of violence. 

The Riverdale Jewish Center, described on its website as “a modern Orthodox synagogue” located in Riverdale in the Bronx, had multiple glass windows and doors broken after an unidentified man was caught on security footage throwing rocks at the place of worship on Thursday of last week.

This is not the first time the Riverdale Jewish Center has seen threats of violence. In 2009, four men from Newburgh, New York plotted to bomb the synagogue, a near-tragedy that was prevented by the F.B.I. 

Another incident on Friday, April 23 also saw windows broken by rocks at the Chabad of Riverdale, less than a mile away from the Riverdale Jewish Center.

Those who committed these crimes remain unidentified. However, Cuomo has directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force “to immediately offer assistance in the investigation being conducted by the New York Police Department.” 

Congressman Lee Zeldin, the first to officially announce a challenge against Cuomo for governor, released a statement on the acts of violence at places of worship. 

“Religious freedom is under attack,” said Zeldin. “New Yorkers must be free to worship without fear, and we must not rest until these acts of anti-Semitism are ridden from our streets and lives.”

Cuomo expressed similar regards toward the crime in his statement on Saturday,  reiterating that the state stands with these communities.

“We will not let these cowardly acts of hate against members of our New York family intimidate us,” Cuomo said.