Queens bagel shop employees speak up after threat to burn business down over Israeli flags


FRESH MEADOWS, Queens — The Israeli flags waving in the wind on the roof of the beloved Bagels & Co. in Queens are a familiar sight for customers, but it set off one teen who threatened to burn the shop down if the business didn’t remove the flags.

Assemblymember David Weprin stood outside the bagel store on the corner of 188th Street and Union Turnpike on Monday morning with other elected officials denouncing anti-Semitism.

“I want to be perfectly clear,” Weprin said. “No acts of anti-Semitism or hate of any kind will ever be acceptable in this community.”

Earlier this month on Nov. 10, Kevin Vasquez and Juan Yax were working behind the counter when they said a teen, around 13 or 14 years old, came in asking for the owner. They told him she wasn’t in.

Vasquez claims the boy threatened to burn down the store and break the windows because of the flags.

The workers, unsure if it was a sick joke or legitimate threat, didn’t take any chances and notified the owner.

On Monday, the employees were honored with proclamations for stepping up.

Community members say the borough has no place for hate, especially since Queens is the most diverse county in the country.

Councilmember Barry Grodenchik pointed out the diverse group that came together to stand up against hate.

“Jewish-American legislator (Asemblymember David Weprin), African-American brothers with us (Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. and Assemblymember Clyde Vanel), two Latinos who stood up for the Jewish-American community, my Korean-American (Linda Lee) sister here about to be sworn in,” Grodenchik said. “That’s what Queens is all about.”

As of Monday night, the suspect had not been caught, so police are asking for the public’s help in identifying him.

Whether he’s caught or not, members of the Fresh Meadows community say the Israeli flags will stay up and flying. 

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