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Alleged Anti-Semitic Arsonist Released With No Bail In New York

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Luke Rosiak Investigative Reporter
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James Polite, who was charged with hate crimes and arson after he allegedly set fire to seven Jewish sites and vandalized a synagogue, was released from jail without bail Tuesday, according to court records.

Polite allegedly wrote “Die Jew Rats” and “Hitler” at the Union Temple of Brooklyn in November 2018. Security footage allegedly showed him setting setting fires at “seven shuls and yeshivas in Williamsburg.”

The incidents led to the cancellation of a Democratic event at the synagogue, with a candidate saying it highlighted the need to vote out “hate.”

Polite is a self-identified queer black man who was taken in by a Jewish couple after his mother left him in “unsanitary” conditions. At a Barack Obama rally, he met then-New York city council speaker Christine Quinn, who hired him as an intern working on anti-hate crime issues and also called him the “adopted child of the Quinn administration,” according to a 2017 New York Times profile that said he “could defy the statistics.”

Polite went on to immerse himself in African American studies at Brandeis University. (RELATED: Black Journalists Group Faults Flint Paper After It Reveals State House Candidates’ Weapons, Assault Charges)

On Facebook, he shared a paper hosted on Brandeis’ website from the Journal of Black Studies about “witchcraft, race and resistance in colonial New England,” highlighting how “Whites accused blacks of the crime of witchcraft in New England.”

After his arrest, the New York Times reported that “mental illness and addiction” contributed to the alleged crime spree, citing that he had “struggled with marijuana use while at Brandeis.”

James Polite / Facebook

James Polite / Facebook

His attorney, Bahar Ansari, did not return a request for comment.

On Jan. 1, New York instituted “bail reform” legislation requiring suspects in non-sexual assault cases who don’t cause physical injury to be released without bail. That has caused several hate crime suspects to be released amidst a rash of anti-Semitism in New York.

A day before the alleged hate crimes, Polite posted a picture of a burning American flag on Facebook. The account was reviewed by the DCNF, which was the first to report on the suspect’s background.

On Facebook, he tagged the couple that took him in, Joshua Waletzky and Jenny Levison, writing “She is competing with the people of the Bubble which POC she can hire, it’s starting to look like white people take home six figures for their lifetime of sacrifices to POC. Yes, they know what you’re gonna say. As soon as they find a bubble safe token they’ll be sure to objectify him and brandish like that overpriced culturally appropriated drink.”

“The blood leaves it’s holder red handed as she clinches on to her paid subscription to I’ve done my part for these POC. They pull out translucent hand sanitizer to their macs which blood is dried by the heat of turbines cooling down minerals with blood. That goes unnoticed in corner office at the Race Pimp industrial complex,” he wrote.

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