Was the Jersey City massacre an anti-Semitic hate crime?
JERSEY CITY — For the mayor of the state's second-largest city and many in the Jewish community, the fusillade of bullets aimed at kosher market on Tuesday, killing three people inside, was an example of an anti-Semitic hate crime.
But for state and federal investigators piecing together the puzzle of the case, the time is not now to ascribe motives to the two shooters, who wound up dead in a shootout with police.
Alex Rosemberg, the Anti-Defamation League director of community affairs in the New York-New Jersey regional office, said Wednesday that it is expected that law enforcement officials at the appropriate time will “call things for what they are.”
He said once an official determination is made and the attack is labeled anti-Semitic, “something needs to be done and measures need to be taken.”
He believes that New Jersey law enforcement agencies are “taking all the appropriate measures, they are providing extra protection out of an abundance of caution of course, and they are providing all of the advice to the community that they can.”
He added people should not overreact to what has happened in Jersey City and panic. But if they become aware of sometime that appears odd or out of place they need to report it immediately.
“If there is a threat and it’s a credible threat, the appropriate authorities can do something about it before it actually occurs.”
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, working with the State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, continues to investigate the Jersey City shootout that left six people dead, including a Jersey City police officer investigating a homicide.
During a news conference on Wednesday, state Attorney Gurbir Grewal said it’s too soon to label the incident a hate crime, a terror attack or an anti-Semitic bias attack, even though video surveillance shows the two attackers stopping a van right in front of a kosher supermarket in and firing gunshots into the store. The gunmen did not target numerous pedestrians walking outside the store.
When asked if authorities were beefing up security at Jewish houses of worship and other locations, Grewal did not directly answer the question. He said he and state Homeland Security Director Jared Maples attended an Interfaith Advisory Council meeting Wednesday morning “to speak to our faith communities across the state to inform our faith communities that we are here as partners if there are concerns.”
He said members of the Interfaith Council were told to always report anything suspicious.
“If they are the victims of any type of bias or hate to report that through the appropriate channels, and that we will follow up on any and all of those leads," Grewal said.
While state officials have not labeled the deadly attack as anti-Semitic, Mayor Steve Fulop, speaking at a separate news conference, indicated he believes this was a deliberate attack against Jews.
“There’s no question this is a hate crime, and anti-Semitism should be called out aggressively and firmly immediately for what it is," Fulop, who is Jewish and a descendant of Holocaust survivors, said.
“There’s no question it was an attack on the Jewish community. There’s no other way to interpret it when you look at the facts.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.