Suspect in NY Synagogue Vandalisms Released from Jail Due to Bail Reform

The suspected perpetrator behind the recent vandalism of New York synagogues was released from jail on May 2 as a result of the state’s bail reform law.

Jordan Burnette, 29, was arrested on May 1 for allegedly breaking the windows of synagogues in the Riverdale area and pouring hand sanitizer on prayer books and then throwing them into the woods. He faces 42 charges of hate-crime related offenses. But the prosecution didn’t seek bail for Burnette due to the state’s bail reform laws. Under the law, which was first implemented in January 2020 and amended in the following April, nonviolent offenses are not subjected to bail. The prosecution pointed out to the judge that before the law was implemented, they would have sought “substantial bail” for Burnette. However, since there aren’t any hate crime exemptions to the bail reform, the prosecution said they wouldn’t “violate the law.”

The judge, Louis Nock, did set $20,000 bail for Burnette after concluding that “shattering of glass” is a violent felony. Nock’s ruling was reversed by Judge Tara Collins, who granted Burnette supervised release.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, “I think this is an area that we definitely should look at again because hate crimes are such a profound challenge. But the important thing for us to do right now is to work within the law as intensely and effectively as possible to protect people.”

Jewish groups also denounced Burnette’s release. “This report about the perpetrator being released is beyond disappointing and really is a slap in the face to the #Jewish community that was impacted in #Riverdale,” Evan R. Bernstein, CEO and national director of the Community Security Service, tweeted.

Stop Antisemitism similarly tweeted that they “are horrified to learn that Jordan Burnette is back on the street.”

Former New York Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who heads Americans Against Antisemitism, released a video criticizing Collins and Bronx District Attorney Denise Clark for Burnette’s release. “Where the heck is the governor of the state of New York? What kind of message does this send… when you indulge in antisemitism, there are no consequences. You can commit all the crimes, you can cause havoc, you can cause fear, you get arrested and you will walk free. You will get out before the police officer leaves the precinct. Where’s the justice?”

Ellie Cohanim, former Deputy Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism, also tweeted, “It’s time to change New York’s bail reform laws to exclude hate crimes! Let’s stop releasing #AntiSemitic criminals back on the streets!”

Anti-Defamation League New York / New Jersey Regional Director Scott Richman said in a statement to the Journal, “We are grateful to law enforcement that a suspect in the Riverdale vandalism that has damaged four synagogues and terrorized the community has now been arrested and charged. We hope that the conditions of Jordan Burnette’s supervised release will be stringent enough to prevent him from attacking any sites again, and ensure that he is available to stand trial.”

Burnette was arrested after riding a bicycle against traffic; the bicycle was allegedly stolen from one of the vandalized synagogues. Burnette told reporters after he was arrested, “Jesus is the real messiah. That’s all I know. I didn’t throw any rocks.” His next court appearance is scheduled for May 7.

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