News & Politics

Brooklyn Museum director not the only prominent New Yorker targeted with vandalism

Several elected officials have seen their offices vandalized with red paint over the Israel-Hamas war.

Rep. Dan Goldman’s office has been vandalized twice since Oct. 7.

Rep. Dan Goldman’s office has been vandalized twice since Oct. 7. Office of Rep. Dan Goldman

Vandalism targeting the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum and several of its other leaders earlier this week was roundly condemned as antisemitic by New York elected officials across the political spectrum. 

“This is not peaceful protest or free speech. This is a crime, and it’s overt, unacceptable antisemitism,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a post on X.

“Our calls for a long-overdue ceasefire and for peace and justice for the people of Palestine cannot and should not be wed with anti-semitism or any other form of bigotry,” wrote Council Members Lincoln Restler and Crystal Hudson, who represent Central Brooklyn, in a statement. Their statement referred to the homes of several Jewish people associated with the museum being vandalized, though it was later reported that only Pasternak is Jewish.

It’s unclear who actually organized or participated in the vandalism, which included red paint splashed across the front of director Anne Pasternak’s apartment building, as well as a banner that referred to her as a “white-supremacist Zionist.” A letter circulated on social media claimed that the action was targeting the homes of several museum executives and board members following a protest at the museum last month where pro-Palestine protesters called for the museum to divest from Israel, where the NYPD eventually made several dozen arrests. The letter claimed that the museum leaders were responsible for the NYPD’s response. A museum spokesperson has said that they did not call the police.

The vandalism followed a tense protest Monday outside an exhibition in the Financial District honoring the hundreds of Oct. 7 victims who were killed at an outdoor music festival in Israel. Elected officials, from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Gov. Kathy Hochul, vociferously condemned that protest as antisemitic.  

Targeting of public officials, including elected officials here in New York, with protests and even vandalism is nothing new. Several members of Congress from New York have been targeted by pro-Palestine protests or vandalism at their offices and homes since the Israel-Hamas war began. 

Rep. Dan Goldman

Rep. Dan Goldman, who represents Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, saw his office vandalized last November and this February. In the first instance, the windows of his Brooklyn district office were painted with “Free Palestine” and “Let Gaza live,” while the sidewalk read “Blood on ur hands.” The vandalism occurred not much more than a month after the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, and it followed Goldman, who is Jewish, speaking in support of both Israelis and Palestinians.

“Our office is accessible 24/7 by appointment, phone, social media, email, or mail, and our incredible constituent services team works around the clock to respond to outreach,” Goldman’s senior adviser Simone Kanter said in a statement to the New York Post at the time. “Harassing, intimidating and outright attacking the staff of a Jewish elected official at a time of rising violence and rampant antisemitism is dangerous and unacceptable.” 

A wide array of members of New York’s congressional delegation also condemned the act at the time, saying in a statement, “We stand together to condemn the vandalism discovered this morning targeting Representative Dan Goldman’s district office. While everyone has a first amendment right to peacefully protest and make their voice heard, that must not extend to intimidating staff or outright criminal behavior.”

In February, Goldman’s office was again vandalized with what the Post called “blood-red wax.”

Rep. Ritchie Torres

Rep. Ritchie Torres, a moderate Democrat who has been vocal in his support of Israel, said that vandals targeted his office in the Bronx on Christmas Day last year, leaving what appeared to be a doll of baby Jesus covered in red paint meant to symbolize blood.

“Covered in ‘blood’ is a doll meant to symbolize Jesus, whom the vandals describe as a ‘Palestinian child messiah.’ The escalation in intimidation and incitement against Members of Congress feels like it is heading in a dangerous direction,” Torres said in a post on X. “I, for one, will not be intimidated.”

Rep. Pat Ryan

Last December, demonstrators calling on Rep. Pat Ryan to support a ceasefire targeted his Newburgh office with vandalism labeling the Congress member a “war criminal.” 

Pro-Palestine protesters have also tried to confront Ryan at his Kingston office to call for a ceasefire as the death toll in Palestine grew. As City & State reported on one instance in January, Ryan’s staff and the protesters maintained conflicting versions of events, but police were eventually called on the protesters.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Pro-Palestine advocates have brought protests close to home for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Over Passover in April, as Congress weighed a bill that would provide billions in aid to Israel, a large protest formed at nearby Grand Army Plaza, where roughly 200 protesters were eventually arrested.

Through spokespeople, Schumer declined to comment on having those protests outside and near his home. It’s not his first experience with it, however. Progressive energy and turmoil in the early days of former President Trump’s term also brought protesters to Schumer’s front door in 2017.