A statue depicting Jesus Christ was toppled and an American flag burned outside a Catholic church in Brooklyn, prompting the New York City Police Department to launch a hate crime investigation.
The New York Post reported:
The incident occurred around 10 p.m. Thursday when an unknown person hopped the fence at St. Athanasius Church on Bay Parkway at 61st Street in Bensonhurst, police said. The vandal pushed over a statue of Jesus’s crucifixion, breaking it into pieces, and torched an American flag hanging outside the rectory, according to cops.
“This was truly an act of hatred, and today is the saddest day of my twenty years here at this parish,” Cassato said in a statement obtained by the Post.
“I went over and spoke to the students in the school about what happened, telling them that hate never wins,” he added. “We are, and must be, a community that continues to share the message of Easter, that which is of love, hope, and forgiveness.”
The NYPD has not release a statement on the investigation.
The attack comes as New York is experiencing a sharp jump in hate crimes. NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force recently revealed that the city recorded 180 hate crimes through May 2 in contrast to 104 hate crimes during the same period last year, representing a 73 percent surge. The figures were first reported by the Times of Israel. Asians were the target of 80 hate crimes through May 2 — the most of any ethic group — while Jews were the second most targeted group with 54 incidents.