What to Know
- A Queens man was caught on video on Sunday threatening violence against a Jewish man inside a Costco on Long Island
- The incident is one of many anti-semitic crimes on the rise in New York and across the country
- It came just one day before Nassau County and Suffolk County executives announced a bi-county effort to battle bigotry on Long Island
Following a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, including swastika graffiti which showed up outside a Holocaust center and a vulgar attack in Costco, Long Island officials came together Monday to create a task force to battle bigotry.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Monday announced a bi-county task force to fight hate after hateful images were left outside the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center (HMTC) in Glen Cove twice in the last month.
And on the day before the task force was announced, Nassau County police arrested a man who allegedly threatened an 11-year-old Jewish boy and two Jewish men at Costco in Lawrence with assault as he yelled religious slurs at them.
Justin Pichizaca, 20, of Queens was caught on video by one of his victims, Avrumi Fri, who posted the footage on social media. The video shows Pichizaca using vile language while threatening to pull a gun on the victim, saying "record all you want because a Nazi is going to f------ kill you."
Describing what transpired before he started recording, Fri said in a Facebook post that he was in the men's bathroom at Costco on Sunday when a man walked out of a stall and said "[expletive] Jew, the Nazis will finish you off."
Fri proceeded to follow the man and started recording on his cellphone. There were several witnesses including a Costco manager named David who told Fri that Pichizaca's membership would be cancelled and he would no longer be welcomed there.
Pichizaca faces aggravated harassment and menacing charges and he will be arraigned in court on Tuesday, according to police.
Data from the Anti-Defamation League shows that anti-Semitic crimes have been on the rise in New York and they continue to go up this year with similar increase all over the country.
HMTC's chairman Steven Markowitz says: “To have it just become a target was very, very frightening and it’s like a wakeup call to us.”
“It’s getting worse right now, as we speak,” Democratic Rep. Thomas Suozzi said Monday.
Rabbi Anchelle Perl Chabad of Mineola says it’s frustrating that the Jewish community still has to deal with hate after so many years. Both of his father and grandfather were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp and his grandfather did not survive.
“It would be very pleased to see and know that here on Long island community leaders are getting together to make a difference,” Perl Chabad said.
The new task force would consult with law enforcement, educators and religious leaders to coordinate existing efforts and programs to fight hate, as well as create new ones.