BEDFORD STUYVESANT – A man accused of multiple hate crimes, including defacing a synagogue in Prospect Heights, is facing 30-counts of arson and burglary as a hate crime, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
James Polite, 26, of Bedford Stuyvesant, was charged today with second-degree arson as a hate-crime, third-degree burglary as a hate crime, second-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime and other related charges in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
Polite first appeared on police’s radar when he, on November 1 around 6:00 pm, allegedly wrote anti-Semitic graffiti inside Union Temple at 17 Eastern Parkway. According to police, the messages ranged from “Hitler,” to “Jew better be ready,” and ‘”End is now.”
Ilana Glazer of “Broad City” was about to host a political event at the time of the crime. The event with two senatorial candidates including now Senatorial-elect Andrew Gounardes was canceled.
“These alleged bias-motivated crimes are disheartening and undermine the values that we hold dear in our community, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said. “In Brooklyn, people of all faiths, cultures, ethnicities, and races should feel safe. The defendant, in this case, has now been indicted and I intend to hold him accountable.”
Police also suspect Polite is connected to an arson at a Yeshiva in Williamsburg at 35 Hewes St. The 26-year-old was seen on surveillance footage entering and leaving a coat room on the first floor of the building at 35 Hewes St. One minute later the hallway next to the room began to fill with smoke. Police said prior to the incident, Polite was seen on surveillance video entering a gas station and obtaining matches.
On November 2, the New York City Police Department arrested Polite after witnesses said they saw him setting a garbage can on fire near 134 Ross St. in Williamsburg. Responding officers recognized Polite from surveillance video.
Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also recognized Polite and announced the then-teenager worked as an intern for her during 2008.
— Christine Quinn (@chriscquinn) November 3, 2018
“This is a young man I have worked with for over a decade,” Quinn told the New York Times. “With all the setbacks, you hoped this would be a good turn. But the opposite happened,” she added.
Polite is being held without bail and is to return to court on February 6, 2019. Christopher Eribo and Joseph P. Alexis are the prosecuting attorneys on the case. If convicted, Polite faces 25 years in prison.