Gaza protest, vandalism targets Palestinian UN Mission in New York City

ByAaron Katersky and Bill Hutchinson ABCNews logo
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Gaza protest, vandalism targets Palestinian UN Mission in New York City
Gaza protest, vandalism targets Palestinian UN Mission in New York City

NEW YORK -- A New York City protest tied to the war in Gaza prompted a large police response early Wednesday and the closure of a block on the city's Upper East Side, where the Palestinian Mission to the United Nations was vandalized and demonstrators littered the street with leaflets smeared with red paint and encouraging the intifada, according to police.

Other vandalism incidents suspected to be linked to the protest were discovered in four other areas of the city overnight, including at the homes of the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum and several of the museum's board members, officials said. Also, a video surfaced Wednesday showing apparent protesters chanting antisemitic threats on a crowded New York City subway car this week.

"The cowards who did this are way over the line into antisemitism, harming the cause they claim to care about, and making everyone less safe," New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said in a post on X accompanied by photos of red paint smeared on the doors and windows of the home of Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak.

According to Lander's photos, protesters also unfurled a sign at the museum director's home, which read, "Anne Pasternak Brooklyn Museum white supremacist Zionist."

"While no one deserves this, worth noting that few museums have done more to grapple w/hard questions of power, colonialism, racism & the role of art," Lander also wrote in his post.

An inverted red triangle was also painted on Pasternak's door, a symbol that has been used by Hamas to mark Israeli military targets and which has also been seen recently at some university protests.

"We are deeply troubled by these horrible acts," a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Museum said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he spoke to Pasternak on Wednesday and told her "These actions will never be tolerated in New York City for any reason."

"This is not peaceful protest or free speech," Adams said. "This is a crime, and it's overt, unacceptable antisemitism."

New York City Councilman Lincoln Restler also posted on X, calling the vandalism "disgusting & horrible."

"This anti-Semitic incident is despicable," Restler wrote, adding that the NYPD is reviewing security video of the vandalism to identify those responsible.

No arrests connected to the protests and vandalism have been announced.

Numerous police officers responded to the Palestinian Mission to the United Nations on 65th Street in New York around 6 a.m. to investigate reports of vandalism, officials said.

When officers arrived, they found the street littered with pamphlets covered in red paint, apparently signifying blood, and accusing the Palestinian Authority of not representing the Palestinian people and being too close to Israel and the United States. The pro-Hamas leaflets also read, "Long live the intifada," using the Arabic term for the Palestinian uprising against Israel.

Witnesses told ABC New York station WABC that about 15 demonstrators showed up in a U-Haul truck outside the Palestinian Mission around the time of the vandalism and began protesting. Witnesses said the roughly 15 demonstrators were briefly at the scene before piling back into the U-Haul truck and leaving.

The overnight demonstrations and vandalism came a day after a large protest against the war in Gaza was held outside a new exhibit in lower Manhattan honoring the 364 concertgoers killed at the Nova Festival in Israel during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas terrorists. Hundreds of protesters waved Palestinian and Hamas military flags and the flag of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group that has vowed to destroy Israel.

Some protesters even tried to storm the doors of the exhibit as relatives of those killed at the Nova Festival were touring the displays, which featured photos of loved ones murdered by Hamas.

Mayor Adams, who attended the exhibit, condemned the protest as "not a representation of our city."

"Our Constitution and our way of life in our city permits free speech and part of that free speech that is protected is some of the ugly things we heard," Adams said. "We have also the right to say, 'This is not who we are as a city,' and I'm exercising that right, right now."

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York also condemned the protest at the Nova Festival exhibit in a speech Tuesday on the Senate Floor.

"How repugnant! How despicable!" Schumer said. "How terribly unnerving that humanity could sink that low."

Meanwhile, a video obtained by ABC News shows apparent pro-Palestinian protesters on a crowded subway car at New York City's Union Square subway station, yelling as part of a call-and-response chant, "Raise your hand if you're a Zionist...this is your chance to get out."