A former NYU professor was caught on camera over the weekend allegedly vandalizing a Brooklyn church.
Michael Gould Wartofsky, 34, was arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly uprooted plants outside the Williamsburg church and threw them at the door, damaging a $5,000 statue.
The incident was caught on a security camera at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel early Sunday, NBC reported.
Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, the church’s pastor, spoke with NBC and told that he believes Wartofsky was intoxicated when he vandalized the church property.
In the footage, Wartofsky was seen with two other men walking down 8th Street. He stopped in front of the church and pulled plants from the garden, throwing them at the door. The two other men did not participate.
Wartofsky can also be seen yelling something at the security camera; he proceeded to drag a resin statue of St. Judge into the middle of the street. He kicked the figure a couple of times and left it there.
Gigantiello told NBC that, “This exhibition of violence, anger, and hatred is very disturbing. This is definitely an attack on the Catholic Church.”
The ex-sociology professor was charged with a hate crime criminal mischief, but at this time there are no charges of public intoxication.
Although this was an attack on the Catholic Church, hate crimes against religious groups have continued to grow across the city.
NYPD said in a statement to NBC that, “We will never tolerate hate in our city in any form. The NYPD has the largest Hate Crime Task Force in the country comprised of the best hate crime investigators that work tirelessly with our patrol officers, detective squads, and community leaders to vigorously investigate every reported hate crime.”
This incident comes amid a rash of possible hate attacks against Brooklyn’s Jewish community.
NBC also reports that police are investigating a string of possible hate attacks on the Jewish community in Brooklyn.
It was reported that on Saturday, a 16-year-old boy was approached by an unknown person in a dark-colored sedan at the corner of 14th Avenue and 55th street in Borough Park. The person tried to get the teen into the card, but the teen fled.
Another recent incident that was reported by Boro Park Shomrim (the neighborhood safety patrol) shows a surveillance video of victims running from attackers who jumped out of a car and chased them down on 53rd Street and New Utrecht Avenue.
Last Friday, NBC reports that a victim was practically pinned by a car, which fled after an occupant punched a victim near 48th street. This occurred in the same neighborhood as the previous incidents. Another report says another person was chased down 51st Street.
It is unclear if all incidents are related or not. Police say that NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating.