A hate crime in Ramapo, Wednesday night, prompted community leader to urge calm amid ongoing tension between religious and secular communities.
Josef Margaretten, a 35 year old Hasidic resident in Monsey, suffered minor injuries from a paintball shot fired by three suspects who were taken into custody and charged with a hate crime almost immediately after the attack just before midnight Wednesday, The Journal news reports.There was no evidence that the two men and a women charged in the attack were part of any organized group, investigators said.
According to the report, Margaretten and another man were leaning against a car on Rita Avenue at 11:48 p.m. Wednesday when a vehicle drove up and a man pointed what looked like a black rifle at them from the passenger window, Ramapo Sgt. Sal Matos said. “Five or six shots were fired from the car, with Margaretten hit twice and the car struck three or four times, Matos said. “It was a powerful paint gun with 3/4-inch diameter balls,” he said.“The victim and the witness both stated that they heard someone yell ‘(expletive) Jew’ as they drove past them,” Matos said. All three were charged with felony second-degree assault as a hate crime as well as two misdemeanor counts of second-degree aggravated harassment and counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and third-degree criminal tampering, court papers show.
The Kaser incident occurred amid rising tensions in Ramapo between the large Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish population and the town’s equally large immigrant and black populations over public school funding and zoning issues.“Until such times as we find a way to begin to live in some kind of harmony, we will have more of these incidences,” said Wilbur Aldridge, a West Haverstraw resident and regional director of the Mid-Hudson-Westchester chapter of the NAACP.
“Ramapo is a very ethnically diverse community and there is zero tolerance for anyone to attack anyone in our community,” Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence said at a news conference. Yossi Gestetner, a community activist urged calm.
“I don’t want people to get over-excited,” he told the Journal news. “It’s a serious case. It’s not a joke.But I don’t want people to push buttons that will not be helpful and will divide our town and communities more than (it) already is.”