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Police Investigate Anti-Semitic Arson, Vandalism In Midwood; Neighbor Captures Spree On Video

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was shock and outrage in Brooklyn on Friday after several cars were torched and numerous examples of anti-Semitic vandalism took place in Midwood.

The incident was discovered at around 5 a.m., when residents said they awoke to see cars burning.

At least four cars were set ablaze and dozens of pieces of anti-Semitic graffiti were plastered along benches. The cars were damaged and the benches vandalized along Ocean Parkway between Avenues I and J. Among the vandalism: "KKK" scrawled nearby, as well as numerous swastikas.

Exclusive video, obtained by CBS 2's Derricke Dennis on Friday night, shows the arson spree. Neighbor Solomon Israel took the video and said a closer look shows a clear sign of arson.

"On the middle car that was burning, I saw a red empty can of gas, which obviously made it very obvious that it was a fire lit on purpose," Israel said.

1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reports


"People are nervous, people are concerned," Assemblyman Dov Hikind said. "The police are putting extra manpower into the community at synagogues and all over."

"Not a way to wake up on Friday morning going into the Sabbath, definitely not," said Midwood resident  Sherry Tawil.

The incident occurred on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when Hitler's Nazis launched a pogrom against Jews in Germany and Austria.

KKK Graffiti In Anti-Semitic Incident In Midwood
'KKK' is scrawled on a car in Midwood on Nov. 11, 2011. (credit: CBS 2)

"I'm used to swastikas, but three cars destroyed is a whole new dimension," said Hikind. "Three cars completely destroyed as if someone had dropped the bomb on them is just a real tragedy."

"All of a sudden I heard explosion from the metal, I guess from the popping.  I look out window.  It was like my house was on fire," victim Arlette Tebele told CBS 2's John Slattery.

"The burning of cars and vandalism of benches in Midwood this morning represents a truly hateful act of prejudice," said Public Advocate Bill De Blasio in a statement. "That it took place on the anniversary of Kristallnacht leaves no doubt that this attack is a hate crime in every sense, and I applaud the NYPD for investigating it as such."

Area lawmakers, including Brooklyn State Sen. Martin Golden, joined police in offering $2,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest, reports CBS 2's Dennis.

"So this was intentional. They knew the community they were in, and they knew what they were doing. And there's a price to pay for that. This is a hate crime and there's a lot of damage, property damage," Golden said.

"We will not accept anti-Semitism in our community. There is zero tolerance for such acts of hatred and ignorance," City Councilman David Greenfield said in a statement. "I'm confident that these hateful people will be caught and punished to the full extent of the law."

"This is the most shocking thing we ever saw, never seen before," said resident Vickie Ayal.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued the following statement Friday afternoon:

"New York City is home to more than 8 million of the most open and tolerant people in the world. But even here, there are occasional incidents involving actions that are hateful or vicious or both. The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is actively investigating the twisted person or people who attacked cars, benches, and a sidewalk on a block of Ocean Parkway early this morning. The Hate Crimes Task Force, like so many other teams at our Police Department, is the world's best, as today's arrest for swastikas painted in Queens during October and early November shows. In fact, hate crimes are down nearly 30 percent citywide so far this year and are down roughly 33 percent in Brooklyn's 66th Precinct.

The fact that this most recent attack came on the heels of the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht may or may not be a coincidence. Either way, this kind of hateful act has no place in the freest city in the freest country in the world."

Just a week ago, two libraries and a synagogue in Queens were vandalized with swastikas.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls are kept confidential. You can also log on to the Crime Stoppers website, or text your tip to CRIMES and then enter TIP577.

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