Police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for a violent attack against the Kings Bay YM-YWHA’s executive director outside an Israel Defense Force fundraiser at the Barclays Center earlier this month, but chose not to charge the man with a hate crime.
Shawn Schraeder, 25, was arrested on Thursday by local police in St. Louis, Missouri, in cooperation with the NYPD. He’s been extradited back to New York and was awaiting arraignment as of yesterday, the Forward reports.
Schraeder is accused of slugging the Kings Bay Y’s executive director, Leonard Petlakh, on October 6, leaving him with a broken nose and in need of stitches.
The incident followed a basketball game that raised funds for the IDF, which drew pro-Palestinian protesters. The activists were booted from the arena after becoming unruly and attempting to unfurl at Palestinian flag. They remained outside where they allegedly accosted Petlakh and other attendees, shouting “Free Palestine” and “Your people are murderers.” A squabble ensued, which left Petlakh injured.
The local leader called his foes “vile anti-Semitic hooligans masquerading as anti-Zionists” and elected officials condemned the attack as a hate crime.
Schraeder, though, is not being charged with a hate crime; police no longer believe bias was involved, ABC News reports.
Local pols have commended the police for the quick arrest, but are urging them to reconsider a hate crime charge.
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz issued the following statement:
“I’m pleased that police arrested a suspect in the brutal attack on Leonard Petlakh but I find it disturbing that they do not plan to charge him with a bias crime.
“Given the anti-Semitic nature of this attack, I urge authorities to reconsider this decision. I will be calling on the district attorney to treat this as a bias case and seek the harshest penalties that are allowed under the law.
“According to multiple accounts of the incident, the suspect did not work alone. He was part of a group of anti-Israel protestors whose intentions turned hateful and violent. I encourage law enforcement to pursue the accomplices who fled after the attack and bring them to justice as well.
“As Leonard recovers from this attack, it is incumbent upon all of us to keep the outrage alive and to not ever allow bias-motivated violence to become old news. As this incident and many others like it have demonstrated, anti-Israel rhetoric has a way of crossing the line quickly to anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“We must continue to speak out against this unacceptable behavior and to seek justice for all those who are victimized by the actions of individuals whose violence is motivated by hate.
Councilman Mark Treyger issued a similar statement:
“I applaud the NYPD for recognizing the seriousness of this attack and for making a quick arrest, despite the fact that the suspect was halfway across the country. This sends a clear message that our city will not tolerate violence against anyone and will devote the necessary time and resources to investigating all incidents of hatred. I would also like to thank Mr. Petlakh for his unwavering leadership and devotion to our community and for his hard work over the years to bring people of all faiths together. My thoughts are with him and his family as they continue to recover from this shocking and brutal attack. Once again, we showed that we will rise above these kinds of incidents that serve to divide our borough and city and will always come together to denounce all forms of violence and hatred.”
… While Council Member Treyger is pleased that an arrest has been made in this incident, he believes that hate crimes charges are warranted based on remarks allegedly directed at the victim during the attack.