Protester Who Allegedly Assaulted Kings Bay Y Leader Charged With Hate Crime

Protester Who Allegedly Assaulted Kings Bay Y Leader Charged With Hate Crime
Schraeder (l) and Petlakh (r) Source: Social media accounts, via Forward
Schraeder (l) and Petlakh (r) Source: Social media, via Forward

The assault charges against Shawn Schraeder, who is accused of punching Kings Bay YM-YWHA Executive Director Leonard Petlakh in the face during a confrontation in front of the Barclay’s Center, have been upgraded as a hate crime.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson presented evidence to a grand jury on Thursday, resulting in the upgraded charges.

Schraeder, 25, was allegedly part of ap pro-Palestinian protest during an Israel Defense Force fundraiser at the basketball arena, when his group as well as a group that confronted them, which included Petlakh, was tossed from the game.

As we reported last year, when Schraeder was arrested in St. Louis, where he had gone to protest the police-involved death of Michael Brown:

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.

The alleged assault took place in front of Petlakh’s children.

Protesters claimed that Petlakh’s group instigated the confrontation by snatching a Palestinian flag, and even threw fists first, according to a Gothamist report:

…the group NYC Solidarity with Palestine claimed [protestor Nerdeen] Kiswani had been hit by a member of Petlakh’s group during the flag-stealing, and that it constituted a hate crime. But video of the theft didn’t show a punch.

Petlakh’s attorney, former councilman and current counsel to the Borough President’s office Lew Fidler, issued the following statement:

“Leonard Petlakh (victim) and I are extraordinarily grateful to Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and his Civil Rights Bureau for seeking and obtaining a hate crime indictment against Shawn Schrader whose vicious and unprovoked assault against Leonard was obviously the result of Mr. Schrader’s hatred of all things Jewish. Leonard was attacked, punched in his face in front of his children, because he was Jewish. There can be no other conclusion and we are sure that the elements of the charge will be proven in a Court of law.
From day one, Leonard and his friends and family cooperated with the DA’s investigation 100% and today’s action both maintains our faith in the criminal justice process but also clearly shows that Jews who are victims of hate in this borough will be protected as the law demands.
The irony of this crime continues to be Leonard’s personal history as an interfaith healer at the Kings Bay Y, where under his leadership, both Jewish and Muslim youth enjoy a single youth group that promotes understanding.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz commended the Brooklyn District Attorney’s decision to charge as a hate crime.

“The D.A.’s action sends a strong message that crimes motivated by hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated and will, in fact, result in harsh consequences for those foolish enough to commit them,” Cymbrowitz said. “Many thanks to Brooklyn D.A. Thompson for pursuing this investigation and finding just cause to charge the suspect not just for the assault but for the anti-Semitic hatred that both precipitated and accompanied it.”

Updated (5:35pm): Assemblywoman Helene Weinsten issued the following statement:

“From the very beginning there was no doubt that the perpetrators of these cowardly attacks meant to single out Leonard Petlakh and his family as Jews and supporters of Isreal, and I want to thank Kings County District Attorney Ken Thompson and his staff for pursuing the indictment of a felony hate crime assault,” said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.  “Leonard Petlakh is not only a friend of mine and a true asset to our community, but, ironically, has dedicated much of his time to the advancement of peaceful and productive multi-cultural relations and outreach. This attack upon him in front of his children was a great blow to the community and these indictments will hopefully stop the growing anti-Israel, anti-Semitic sentiment that we have seen in different forms in our City, Nation and across the globe. Thank you to the DA Thompson for sending a clear message: violent acts of intolerance and hate will be met with swift and appropriate justice”, concluded Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.

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