A 63-year-old man was assaulted in what police are calling an antisemitic attack in New York’s Central Park on Wednesday, according to the New York Police Department.
The man was walking in the park when another man in his mid-40’s allegedly ambushed him from behind, causing the older man to fall, chip his tooth and break his hand, police said.
The suspect yelled antisemitic insults at the victim, as well as “Kanye 2024,” before fleeing on a bicycle with an attached trailer that had a sign reading “Hungry Disabled,” according to police.
The suspect is still at large as authorities are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the attacker.
The victim is in stable condition, according to local authorities.
The NYPD described the suspect as a man with light complexion, last seen wearing a brown jacket, a multi-colored hat, beige pants and white sneakers with a bicycle carrying an assortment of items.
“Crimes like these have a ripple effect across communities and cause unique trauma on top of physical harm,” Scott Richman, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New York/New Jersey, told CNN.
Richman said the attack is an example of how rapper Kanye West’s antisemitic rhetoric has perpetuated violence and incited others to act out. “When public figures with huge platforms fan the flames of antisemitism, people will copy it and begin to think it’s normal,” he said.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that West, who legally changed his name to Ye, was suspended on Twitter after he tweeted an image of the Star of David with a swastika inside. The tweet followed a series of antisemitic ramblings from West in recent months and came the same day he gave an interview to far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones during which Ye expressed his love for Adolf Hitler.
Councilwoman Gayle A. Brewer, who represents all of Central Park, also condemned the attack in her district in a statement to CNN, saying: “This kind of behavior is absolutely abhorrent. It’s horrific and there is no need for it.”
Councilman Eric Dinowitz, chairman of the city council’s Jewish Caucus, echoed those sentiments to CNN. “I am deeply disturbed by this vile, yet predictable antisemitic attack in Central Park. Anti-Jewish attacks are rising at an alarming rate, fueled by hateful rhetoric and willful ignorance. These attacks on Jewish New Yorkers are not isolated incidents, but a pattern of attacks on an entire people,” he said.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic attacks reached an all-time high in the US last year — up 34% from 2020.
The NYPD has seen an increase in overall hate crimes, led by a sharp increase in antisemitic incidents in November. The department reported 45 incidents last month, up from 20 incidents reported on November 2021, according to NYPD statistics.
Earlier this month, New York police arrested a man accused of firing a BB gun at a Jewish father and son who were out grocery shopping.
In a separate incident this month, a grand jury indicted two men – one of whom is Jewish and a descendant of a Holocaust survivor – in connection with an online threat last month to attack a synagogue in New York City.
“The upcoming holiday of Chanukah is a celebration of hope against insurmountable odds, and I ask that everyone take this opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder against antisemitism, so that members of the Jewish Community can live with safety and dignity,” Dinowitz said.