PROSPECT HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — A man was apprehended Friday after allegedly vandalizing a synagogue in Brooklyn with racial slurs, officials said.
James Polite was charged with three counts of arson as a hate crime, three counts of reckless endangerment and three counts of criminal mischief. The 26-year-old was admitted to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
Polite previously interned for the New York City Council and former Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, who assisted him as he grew up in and out of foster care, says though devastated to hear Polite's alleged involvement, his actions are "inexcusable."
“I know this young man, and along with many others in the New York City Council and social services agencies throughout the City, have done everything I could over the years to help him as he grew up in and out of the foster system, in and out of the mental health system, and in and out of homelessness. 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. And while he has experienced hardship that most people can’t ever imagine, his actions are inexcusable. I stand with the Jewish community today and every day, and pray for all New Yorkers who deserve the very basic right to enter their place of worship without fearing for their lives," she said in a statement released by a spokesperson.
According to police sources, the anti-Semitic messages were found scrawled on the staircase and hallways of the Union Temple of Brooklyn on Thursday.
There appears to have been no forced entry into the synagogue, police sources said.
The Union Temple preschool at the synagogue was canceled Friday as a result of the threats, police told PIX11.
“Broad City” actress Ilana Glazer was scheduled to host a political event Thursday night, with candidates running in the midterms at the Murmrr Theatre, a venue space at the synagogue.
The event was canceled after the messages were discovered.
“This was tremendously upsetting," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "It’s coming at a time when Jewish people are feeling a profound sense of loss and sadness because of what happened in Pittsburgh and all those killed there because of their faith."
The incident comes less than a week after 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh when an alleged anti-Semitic gunman opened fire.
Homes in Brooklyn were also found vandalized with racial slurs and swastikas earlier this week. So far this year, the NYPD says there have been more than 140 anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city.