Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein, ZOA Chair Mark Levenson, Esq. and ZOA Special Projects Director Elizabeth Berney, Esq. released the following statement:
The ZOA is outraged that Jordan Burnette was released without bail, shortly after Burnette was arrested and charged with 42 counts of violently terrorizing the Jewish community in Riverdale, Bronx, NY. During his 11-day antisemitic terror spree, Burnette threw rocks and smashed doors and windows of four synagogues, the Riverdale Jewish Youth Library, and cars parked in nearby private driveways and streets, and desecrated and destroyed Jewish prayer books. The four synagogues that Burnette damaged were: Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC); Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale; Young Israel of Riverdale; and Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale (CSAIR).
As the Algemeiner and others reported, the Jewish community in Riverdale is scared, terrified, angry, and disheartened that Burnette was released, so soon after the NY Police Department ably did its job by arresting Burnette. The failure to keep Burnette in jail sends a terrible message that perpetrators can commit violent, frightening hate crimes against Jews and others and then walk away, free to commit additional frightening antisemitic attacks.
This incident is another appalling example of the injustice and danger wrought by New York’s Bail Elimination Act (NY Criminal Procedure Law § 510.10 et seq.). Immediately after the Bail Elimination Act went into effect at the beginning of last year (January 1, 2020), ZOA urged the New York State legislature to repeal this absurd and dangerous law, which endangers Jews, other vulnerable groups and all law-abiding New Yorkers less safe. (See ZOA’s detailed discussion of NY’s Bail Elimination Act at: “ZOA’s Morton A. Klein: NY’s “Bail Reform” Makes Jews & Everyone Else Unsafe – Breitbart,” Jan. 4, 2020.)
ZOA moreover especially urged, and continues to urge, ending New York’s refusal to consider the danger a defendant poses to the public when making bail determinations. Considering danger to the public is essential for assuring public safety, and is constitutional. Indeed, in United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld taking danger to the community into account in bail and bail denial determinations. ZOA also noted that, in December 2019, in anticipation of the Bail Elimination Act, the New York courts repeatedly released alleged antisemitic assailant Tiffany Harris without bail, even though each time Harris was released, within a few hours Harris again perpetrated yet another unprovoked physical attack on Jewish women.
The recent attacks moreover remind us that we cannot afford to ignore antisemitic attacks from any quarter—left or right—violent extremist whites or violent extremist blacks or violent extremist Islamists. As civil rights activists, it is disheartening to see dangerous antisemitic attacks being perpetrated by extremist radical violent African Americans, including Burnette’s attack on the Jewish community in Riverdale; and in other numerous cases the murders of Jews in Jersey City and Monsey by violent Black supremacists; Tiffany Harris’ repeated attacks on Jewish women; and other recent brutal attacks on Jews in Brooklyn and Manhattan. ZOA calls on all decent persons of all faiths and communities to stand up against antisemitism of every variety.