A former New York City policeman was arrested Sunday for allegedly spray-painting swastikas and anti-Semitic messages on cars and buildings in a heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, NBC 4 New York reported.
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The graffiti was sprayed Saturday night on 15 cars and four buildings, including the front doors of an elementary school, in Borough Park. Most of the graffiti was sprayed in the vicinity of a synagogue.
Police arrested Michael Setiawan, 36, whom police say "separated" from the NYPD in 2007 after serving in it for two years. He is being charged with criminal mischief and aggravated harassment, both as hate crimes.
A month ago the Anti-Defamation League reported that the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks in New York City - especially in Brooklyn - more than tripled last year, even as the city's overall number of anti-Semitic incidents, violent and non-violent together, dropped. The number of physical attacks on Jews in New York rose from six in 2012 to 22 last year.
"The bottom line is that Jews were targeted because they were Jews," Evan Bernstein, the ADL's New York regional director told the New York Daily News at the time. "The rise of assaults in certain areas of New York City – in particular Brooklyn – is both disturbing and a sobering reminder that anti-Semitism is not just history but remains a current event."
In the Borough Park graffiti incident, NBC 4 New York published a photo taken from surveillance cameras outside the elementary school showing a man spray-painting the front doors. The man's face was blurred, however, because his identity was not confirmed.
City Councilman David Greenfield said the community was shocked by the act.
"I had a parent who came to me who told me that his daughter who lives across the street and attends this school said that she's afraid to attend the school on Monday," Greenfield said.