The Brooklyn man accused of scrawling anti-Semitic words inside Union Temple of Brooklyn is now facing additional charges for reportedly starting fires in synagogues in Williamsburg between 2 to 3 a.m. on Friday.
James Polite, 26, was charged with committing a hate crime, after allegedly writing hateful words on the stairs and hallway of the temple with black marker on Thursday evening. He was admitted to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
Polite is now facing three counts each of arson as a hate crime, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief in connection with the synagogue fires.
At Union Temple, Saturday morning’s Shabbat service was well attended.
“I’m not a member of the congregation,” said Alan Goodman, who attended the Shabbat service. “I came out here like many other people in solidarity with them.”
“We had probably about 150 more people than we usually do, just coming out of solidarity to stand with us and pray with us,” said Ross Brady, the temple’s administrator.
Brady said he had never seen Polite before. “Apparently, he came in for something and made his way into part of the building, into the stairwell.”
According to a spokesperson for former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Polite was once an intern for the council.
Quinn released a statement, saying:
“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."