Dozens of residents marched through a Brooklyn neighborhood on Sunday to protest against vandals who torched three cars and scrawled Nazi swastikas in an area populated by Orthodox Jews.
Protesters said they were stunned after unknown vandals set the cars ablaze, spray-painted the letters "KKK" on a van, defaced four public benches with 16 swastikas and left other anti-Semitic messages on a sidewalk in the Midwood neighborhood before dawn on Friday. Police have made no arrests.
"I've never seen this level of violence here," State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said. "This goes beyond the pale — blowing up cars in the middle of the Jewish community."
About 100 people joined the march through Midwood. They passed the benches on Ocean Parkway that had been defaced with swastikas — all removed within hours of their discovery.
The three torched cars had been parked nearby. Hikind said authorities told him they believe rags were soaked in gasoline, placed under the cars and lit.
The marchers carried an Israeli flag and were led by Hikind, state Sen. Eric Adams, Rabbi Chaim Gruber, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel and other community leaders.
Protesters noted the attack occurred one day after the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht, a series of attacks on Jews in Nazi Germany on Nov. 9-10, 1938.
"I am the child of a Holocaust survivor, and this makes me uncomfortable," said Judy Pfeffer, 62, a retired city education department employee. "Even then, it was just vandalism. But it led to the Holocaust."
Sunday's march included about 25 people from the Occupy Wall Street movement in Manhattan, which put out a statement condemning the vandalism.
The mix of people who showed up for the march "shows that we stand together against hatred. And it makes residents here feel better," Hikind said.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer also condemned the vandalism during an unrelated event on Sunday.
"It's disgraceful and they should throw the book at the people who did it," Schumer said. "Sometimes (vandals) think they're pranks, sometimes they're more malicious than that. Either way they cause great harm."