Queens man charged with hate crime over antisemitic vandalism

A Queens, N.Y., man has been charged with a hate crime after he allegedly spray-painted several swastikas and other antisemitic graffiti around his neighborhood last month.

Kristoffer Bahamonde has been charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime, aggravated harassment in the first degree, making graffiti and possession of graffiti instrument, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Sunday.

Bahamonde is accused of using red spray paint to tag three locations between May 30 and May 31, defacing two pieces of temporary fencing with swastikas and the number 110.

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The number 109 is white supremacist numeric shorthand for an antisemitic claim that Jews have been expelled from 109 different countries, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The number 110 is the code urging the United States to join them. 

Bahamonde was caught on surveillance video carrying a can of spray paint at one of the locations and spray-painting a swastika at another, according to Katz’s office. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

“The defendant allegedly used symbols of hate to deface property and intimidate members of our shared community,” Katz said in a statement. “In Queens County, we stand together against hatred directed toward any group. This defendant’s alleged actions do not reflect our values or who we are.”

The crime Bahamonde is charged with appears similar to other vandalism found on the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial last week, although he has not been charged in connection with the June 2 incident.

New York City Council Member Robert Holden (D) said he is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and condition of “the sick soul” who attacked the monument.

The ADL reported in April that 2020 was the third-worst year for antisemitic incidents since it first began tracking such data in 1979. According to the organization, 2,024 incidents of antisemitic assault, harassment and vandalism were reported last year.

This February, a set of Holocaust memorial statues were destroyed at a Tulsa, Okla., Jewish art museum and swastikas were spray-painted on a synagogue in Spokane, Wash.

A student at the University of Connecticut was arrested last month and charged with a hate crime in connection to a spray-painted swastika near the campus's Hillel building during the Jewish holiday of Passover.