Two young men who were killing time by taking some photos in front of a Brooklyn synagogue have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the NYPD, which is good considering they didn’t do anything wrong in the first place.
In a classic knee-jerk reaction, the New York Post (and then the rest of the local New York media) ran with the story based on surveillance footage shot from the Edmond Safra Synagogue and a statement issued by state Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), both of whom characterized the men as “suspicious” for doing nothing more than snapping a few shots. In the YouTube description for the video, the synagogue wrote: “2 Middle Eastern Suspicious Men Approaching Synagogue.”
Naturally, that racial description was kept out of all the news reports, but each and every outlet echoed the term “suspicious.”
“We don’t know why, we don’t know what their interest was, but they clearly did not belong there and everyone is very concerned,” said Hikind — after the NYPD briefly detained the men, questioned them and released them.
This is the same guy who, by the way, celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim by dressing in blackface and an afro wig in 2013. When asked about the costume by the Observer, he replied: “[I]t’s all worth it, I would do it again in a minute.” By the time the New York Times spoke to him, he changed his tune, kinda:
“Next year I was thinking I’d be an Indian,” he said. “But you know, I’ve changed my mind about that. I don’t think that’s a good idea. Somebody will be offended.”
The NYPD took the complaints seriously enough to put its anti-terrorism unit on patrol in the area. It’s since been called off, and when ANIMAL reached out to Hikind for comment, his office told us that at least “he’s not calling them terrorists.”