Suspect Arrested in Attack on Jewish Man in Times Square

May 22, 2021 Updated: May 22, 2021

NEW YORK—A man was arrested and several others were being sought in connection with an attack on a Jewish man in New York City’s Times Square that drew the attention of several politicians and is being investigated as a hate crime, police said on Friday.

The attack on Thursday, captured in a video that was shared on social media, followed rival pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations in midtown Manhattan over the fighting in Gaza, which ended in a ceasefire hours later. The demonstrations resulted in 26 arrests.

The 29-year-old Jewish man was attacked a short time after the demonstrations and was taken to a hospital where he was in stable condition, Sergeant Jessica McRorie, a police spokeswoman, said. The victim’s name was not released.

“The victim was approached by a group of five or six males who knocked him to the ground, assaulted him while making anti-Semitic statements,” McRorie said by phone. “They punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and hit him with some crutches during the assault.”

The man who was arrested was identified as Waseem Awawdeh, who police said used a crutch in the early evening assault. He faces charges of second-degree hate crime assault, a second-degree gang assault, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

A video of the incident showed a person striking a man on the ground with a crutch and fleeing as other attackers also did. The victim got up about a minute later and tried to pursue his attackers, but was restrained by police.

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force said it was investigating the assault.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that he was dispatching the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist.

Cuomo and several other elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose district includes the Times Square area, condemned what Cuomo called “anti-Semitic violent gang harassment and intimidation.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who also condemned the attack, said in a statement that the victim is a resident of the county, which is just east of New York City on Long Island.

By Peter Szekely