New York, NY – A Brooklyn man was arrested by police and charged with writing disturbing messages of hate inside a Brooklyn synagogue Thursday evening.
James Polite, 26, has been charged with four counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime and making graffiti, according to WABC.
Police said Polite was sent to Woodhull Hospital for psychiatric observation, WABC reported.
Polite was also charged with a string of arson fires in Williamsburg that included one at a yeshiva and one at a Jewish banquet hall.
The graffiti inside the Union Temple in Prospect Heights read, “Kill all Jews” and “Hitler” along with other offensive language, WABC reported.
Police said some of the graffiti was written in black marker inside a stairwell.
A political event was cancelled because people felt threatened.
A “Get out the Vote” event which was to be hosted by Broad City actress Ilana Glazer was also canceled.
“What was scary was that it was all over the building, and then the cops were kind of searching the building,” Glazer said, according to WABC. “It was too freaky. It was too freaky to hold it.”
Christine Quinn, the Democratic former Speaker of the New York City Council, said Saturday she knew the suspect. Quinn said that social service agencies in the city did everything they could to help him. She said that Polite grew up in and out of the foster system, mental health system and homelessness, according to WABC.
Polite actually worked as an intern for Quinn where he worked on anti-hate-crime initiatives, according to The New York Times.
He had posted a picture to social media showing himself burning an American flag.
“The actions he is accused of break my heart and devastate all of us who tried to help him get on solid footing over the years,” Quinn said in a statement on Twitter, according to WABC. “And while he has experienced hardship that most people can’t ever imagine, his actions are inexcusable.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the graffiti was the vilest kind of hate and said the police would catch the person who did it and hold that person accountable.
“It’s deeply disturbing to all New Yorkers and something we don’t accept here in this city,” de Blasio said, according to WABC.
The New York Police Department says that half of all hate crimes in the city are directed against Jewish people.
“This individual went into the facility, a facility where people go to pray and worship, and scrawled some pretty derogatory hate filled messages,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said, according to WABC.