By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Shea Hecht, a veteran activist in the Crown Heights Jewish community, said the recent spike in attacks against Jews in the Brooklyn neighborhood is the result of… marijuana.
In an interview with Hamodia, the Chairman of the NCFJE organization said that he believes the problem can be traced back to 2014 when then-Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana offenses.
“I am afraid to say it, but it seems to be the truth: that with the availability of marijuana and the rise of its usage, there has also been a rise in crime,” said Rabbi Hecht.
“There are certain drugs that sedate the user. But it seems that using marijuana increases a user’s chutzpah, and they may be doing things that they would not be doing if they weren’t using.”
Though he believes patrols can be increased further, Rabbi Hecht generally spoke highly of the police response. “But personally,” he says, “I think it’s time for some type of town-hall meeting with the mayor’s office.”
Rabbi Hecht believes that when discussing the issue with authorities, the Jewish community should focus generally on the increase of crime in the neighborhood, rather than pushing law enforcement on the hate crime issue per se, because it is “too early to say whether it is specifically a hate-crime issue.”
“My message to City Hall is give us more police; my message to the community is to let the police do their job.”
Others, including Brooklyn’s chief law-enforcement officer, make it clear that the recent spike in crime –11 in the past month alone– is driven by hatred.
Crime statistics released by the NYPD Tuesday show a significant increase in hate crimes in New York City, even while overall crime has dropped. More hate crimes were anti-Semitic – 14 out of 19 last year, 28 out of 42 in 2019 – than against all other groups combined.
“This issue of hate crimes has creeped back into our communities, and it’s something that as a District Attorney I’m committed to stamping out,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Sunday, in an interview on 770 WABC.
In December, Gonzalez created a new Hate Crimes Bureau; it had previously been a unit in the Civil Rights Bureau. Gonzalez vowed in the radio interview Sunday that his office would “vigorously prosecute” hate-crimes cases.
“We’re going to hold people accountable,” said the DA. “We’re going to make sure that these cases result in very stiff penalties for anyone who commits a hate crime because these crimes are horrendous. They not only impact a person who’s been assaulted, but they impact a whole community. They create fear in an entire community.”