New York (Dec. 30)
A comprehensive report of an investigation into anti-American and anti-Semitic vandalism in New York will be submitted to Mayor LaGuardia by Commissioner of Investigation William B. Herlands, it was announced today. A statement issued by the Commissioner reads:
“During the last year the Department of Investigation has been conducting a city-wide investigation into all cases of anti-American and anti-Semitic vandalism called to the department’s attention. This inquiry was originally ordered by Mayor LaGuardia. A report will be submitted to the Mayor next week, covering a comprehensive and detailed inquiry into most of these cases. The investigation is continuing as to the remaining cases, including the more recent ones. A feature of the report is the presentation of case histories of the individual vandals and offenders, showing their school, family and personal histories for the purpose of determining the motives underlying their acts.”
Commissioner Herlands’ statement followed yesterday’s appeal by the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith to public officials “to take immediate and adequate steps” to check the desecration of synagogues and the attacks on Jewish boys by gangs of hoodlums in the Washington Heights area of the city. The League documented its charge with 26 affidavits from Jewish children who had been assaulted and from rabbis of the desecrated synagogues.
Police Commissioner Lewis H. Valentine, in response to a written question as to whether anti-Semitism “has become a problem in New York in the past few months,” replied. “Anti-Semitism is always a problem in a large, heterogeneous city such as New York. The commanding officers of this department are required to be on the alert for manifestations of this deplorable and un-American form of enmity and hatred, and are required to adopt special and extraordinary measures to prevent and suppress vandalism or violence that may result because of this typical ‘Nazi-like’ bigotry and persecution.” He added that “if and when it becomes necessary,” special police measures will be adopted.
Inspector Joseph Bannon, transferred only a few days ago to command of the 5th Division, which includes Washington Heights, said last night: “We have fine men and the place is well policed. The situation is much exaggerated. Things are very calm and collected in Washington Heights.” Deputy Inspector Edward C. Moran, of the 5th Division, said, “We’ve had one report of anti-Semitism. We investigated, but it didn’t turn out. There was a meeting about a month ago, but they (a group of rabbis and ministers) couldn’t prove anything. Sure, we hear these complaints now and then, but when we go into it, we’ve got nothing to work on.”
The statement by the Anti-Defamation League yesterday said: “The assault incidents have a uniform pattern. In each case the hoodlum demands to know the religion of his intended victim. If the victim admits he is Jewish, or if the hoodlum concludes that this is the fact, an assault ensues. The age range of the anti-Semitic hoodlums is ten to fourteen. They travel in groups of two to ten. They roam the streets looking for little Jewish boys to assault and for Jewish property to desecrate. Because of the always present anti-Jewish element in the assault, the situation, reasonably, cannot be described as ordinary juvenile delinquency.”