Photo: Individual throwing objects at the windows of the Young Israel of Riverdale Synagogue. Photo Credits: Screenshot/Twitter/NYPDHateCrimes

Ending an 11-day crime spree, in which four synagogues and Jewish centers in Riverdale were vandalized, and siddurim (prayer books) were intentionally violated and destroyed, an individual was arrested on May 1st. He was charged with 42 alleged criminal counts – including multiple hate crimes – after eyewitnesses and video surveillance identified him as the perpetrator.

Under New York’s new bail reform laws, however, most offenses require a defendants’ immediate release without bail while awaiting trial. Indeed, the alleged serial Riverdale perpetrator was released last night.

Agudath Israel of America supported an exception to the bail reform laws in 2020 (S.7111 Gounardes / A.8944 Eichenstein), which stated that hate crimes would be offenses for which Judges have discretion to fix bail. While some exceptions to bail reform were subsequently made for violent crimes, non-violent hate crimes were not included, and the bill, as originally conceived, failed to pass.

In the face of rising antisemitic hate crimes, and as this egregious case makes all too clear, Judges should be allowed to set bail for hate crimes. Those who target religious individuals and houses of worship should not walk freely while awaiting trial.

Agudath Israel supports A.02603, sponsored by Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein, and cosponsored by Assemblymembers Abbate, Brabenec, Buttenschon, Cymbrowitz, Fahy, Thiele, Woerner, Paulin, Rozic, and Rosenthal, which, once again, seeks to include hate crimes in offenses for which a judge has discretion to set bail.