by WorldTribune Staff, November 4, 2018
The man arrested for vandalizing a synagogue in New York City and for setting fires at several other locations affiliated with the Jewish community is a Democratic activist who had volunteered for President Barack Obama’s campaign, reports say.
James Polite, the 26-year-old man who was charged with arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief – all as hate crimes – also once worked for New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Police said surveillance video captured Polite inside the Union Temple in Brooklyn, where he is alleged to have written “Die Jew Rats,” “Hitler,” “End It Now” and “Jew Better Be Ready” in marker on the walls.
The synagogue had been scheduled to host a Democratic Party event.
Polite was taken into custody on Nov. 2 at the scene of a fire that had been set inside the coat room of Yeshiva Beth Hillel of Williamsburg, officials said. He was also suspected of setting fires at four other locations affiliated with the Jewish community, including another school.
The Daily Caller noted that Democrats, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had used the vandalism at the Brooklyn synagogue in political messages – until Polite’s arrest.
Polite had previously worked for Quinn on hate crime issues. Quinn and Polite met at “a gay pride rally for Barack Obama on the steps of City Hall in 2008,” The New York Times noted.
Quinn issued a statement on Nov. 3, saying that “What James did is horrible and in some ways unforgivable.”
Quinn also suggested that Polite suffered from mental health issues.
As of Nov. 3, Polite was being held for psychiatric evaluation.
A year ago, The New York Times profiled Polite, noting that he was an LGBT foster youth who “could defy the statistics” after becoming the “adopted child of the Quinn administration,” as Quinn put it. “And it wasn’t just me. It was the entire City Council staff.”
According to the Daily Caller’s report, before it was known that the suspect in the vandalism and fires was a Democratic activist being paid by taxpayers to work on hate crime issues, Cuomo said he was asking the state’s Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate the incident, and pointed to “an additional $10 million grant program to help protect New York’s non-public schools and cultural centers, including religious-based institutions. The disgusting rhetoric and heinous violence in this nation has reached a fever pitch and is ripping at the fabric of America.”
New York State Senate candidate Jim Gaughran, a Democrat, took to Twitter to use the synagogue vandalism to slam the “current political climate.” Gaughran has not tweeted on the issue since Poilte’s arrest.
“What this incident highlighted is the need for a change in our current political climate. Hate, bigotry, and fear-mongering have become all too common in today’s society and that needs to change. This change won’t happen on its own, however. It is up to us! That’s why it is so important that every single person gets out and votes in Tuesday’s election so we can stop the spread of hate,” tweeted Gaughran, who had been scheduled to speak at the Brooklyn synagogue event before the vandalism was discovered.