On Monday, Jewish community leaders across New York and the country expressed outrage after a Bronx Judge ruled that the man arrested for a string of rock-throwing attacks on synagogues in the Riverdale neighborhood of New York be released.
Reversing the ruling of Bronx Criminal Court Judge Louis Nock, who had ruled that the 29-year-old perpetrator Jordan Burnette be held on bail, Judge Tara Collins reversed the decision and granted supervised release, which infuriated the Jewish community across New york.
Burnette was arrested Saturday on a whopping 42 charges in connection with the spree of synagogue attacks, in which over several days he smashed doors and windows at the Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC), Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale, Young Israel of Riverdale and Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale (CSAIR). Despite the nature and volume of his hate crimes, Burnette was released, spreading a wave of terror and uncertainty amidst the Jewish community in Riverdale once again.
“We were terrorized, frightened for ten days,” Rabbi Levi Shemtov of Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale told ‘The Algemeiner’. “Finally, when we heard shabbos [Saturday] morning that they caught him, we all felt a sense of relief. Now this morning, as Riverdale is getting up, everybody’s calling me, texting me, emailing me — we’re back to square one, and it’s even worse. Because now he has a path to do whatever he wants.” Shemtov said he was especially concerned upon hearing that Burnette lives in the Riverdale community, close to the four Jewish institutions he targeted. “People are scared, terrified — and there’s a lot of anger, a lot of frustration,” he said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called for “looking into” allowing judges to set bail in cases of nonviolent hate crimes, saying that it was critical to “work within the law as intensely and effectively as possible to protect people,” in his daily briefing Monday.
“These laws are pathetic and need to change. The silent majority must speak up before more innocent people get hurt,” said Joshua Gleis of Gleis Security Consulting, a security firm that helps protect several hundred houses of worship and other not-for-profits, many of them in Riverdale.
Meanwhile, as reported by The Algemeiner, Mitch Silber, executive director of the Community Security Initiative, which helps secure Jewish institutions in the New York area, condemned the release, saying,“The release of the perpetrator is terribly disheartening to the community — is unnerving, is causing significant anxiety. I’ve just participated in a call with the Bronx District Attorney’s office, and what we’ve learned is that supervised release in New York City means you’re released with no supervision. He could walk out of his apartment, and walk to any one of the locations that he attacked, and there would be no consequence for him to do that.”
“The community is trying to figure out how do they go about their daily business, visiting their shuls, taking children to day school, in an environment where this individual essentially has no prohibitions on his movements,” Silber added. “Vigilance is the watchword.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement that the “NYPD did its job and arrested the perpetrator of multiple hate crimes, only to see him released by a judge. Criminals, including antisemites, will act with increasing impunity putting all in danger unless the laws treat every hate crime seriously.”