Alleged Synagogue Vandal: 'I'm Just an Artist'

NYC man Lenny De La Rosa faces hate crime charges over August vandalism spree
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2023 5:55 PM CDT
Alleged Synagogue Vandal Faces Hate Crime Charges
The Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue, one of three Manhattan synagogues allegedly targeted by De La Rosa.   (Wikipedia/Headcases)

A New York City man accused of vandalizing three synagogues has been charged with four counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree as a hate crime—but he claims he is "just an artist." Asked by the New York Post whether he is antisemitic or "hates Jews," 21-year-old Lenny De La Rosa said he "loves everybody." Prosecutors say De La Rosa also targeted a Jewish volunteer ambulance during a vandalism spree in Manhattan over 48 hours in August. He allegedly wrote "JESUS SAINTZZZ," "DEAD RIIP," and "DEAD B-P" on the synagogues, and "Dead rip" on the ambulance.

According to court documents, De La Rosa told police he "just so happened" to tag the Jewish places of worship and said he "didn't really" consider himself antisemitic. "I didn't choose it, Islam chose me," court documents quote him as saying. "To be honest, when I was growing up, all of my friends were Muslim so that's kinda that. I also had a lot of friends from Columbia University and they were Jewish. Don't get me wrong, I had Jewish friends."

"As alleged, Lenny De La Rosa defaced three synagogues and an ambulance in a series of antisemitic acts," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. "Synagogues are sacred places where everyone should be able to practice their faith safely. We will not allow our houses of worship to be violated by hateful acts and we do not tolerate bias and antisemitism." De La Rosa, who could face up to four years in prison if convicted, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, the Post reports. (More antisemitism stories.)

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