Nov. 22, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A group of “anarchists” shattered car windows, tore down American flags and scrawled expletives on property in Middle Village Friday night, local officials and police said.
Nearly 50 rioters dressed in all black stormed into the neighborhood around 8:30 p.m. and wreaked havoc following the “not guilty” verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, according to Councill Member Robert Holden, who represents the neighborhood.
Holden said the “anarchists” specifically came into the neighborhood to vandalize property, rather than peacefully protest.
“Last night, 40 to 50 anarchists dressed in black assembled at Crowley Park in Elmhurst and then entered Middle Village to vandalize and disturb the peace,” he said in a statement Saturday. “These rioters vandalized property, tore down American flags, turned over garbage cans, jumped on and spray-painted cars, and blocked traffic.”
The NYPD arrested five men — ranging in age from 22 to 38 — on charges including unlawful assembly, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief. Officers seized a hatchet, ax and spraypaint while making the arrests.
The department posted photos of the damage on Twitter, including a shattered windshield and a car spraypainted with “f*ck you.”
“The NYPD takes its responsibility to protect the 1st amendment rights of peaceful demonstrators seriously,” the department tweeted. “Just as important is the safety of NYers & the protection of property from people breaking the law in the name of protest. As seen tonight in Queens, they will be arrested.”
The NYPD takes its responsibility to protect the 1st amendment rights of peaceful demonstrators seriously. Just as important is the safety of NYers & the protection of property from people breaking the law in the name of protest. As seen tonight in Queens, they will be arrested. pic.twitter.com/a6bL0Fewv9
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 20, 2021
Holden, a moderate Democrat who lives in Middle Village, said he and the neighborhood were targeted for their pro-police stance.
For instance, the car that was covered in graffiti had a “thin blue line” sticker in support of the police.
“We’re targeted because we support the police here,” Holden said during a press conference Saturday. “We want more police.”
The council member added that calling the vandals protestors is inaccurate.
“These were not protestors,” he said. “They didn’t chant; they didn’t have signs; they weren’t saying anything. They were just coming into our community all dressed in black — only showing their eyes — and were destroying. They were breaking things, throwing things, stomping on cars.”
Prior to the vandalism, Holden criticized a tweet put out by Mayor Bill de Blasio following the Rittenhouse verdict. De Blasio questioned the verdict and described it as disgusting.
This verdict is disgusting and it sends a horrible message to this country.
Where is the justice in this?
We can’t let this go. We need stronger laws to stop violent extremism from within our own nation.
Now is the time. https://t.co/r8TTicFn0U
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 19, 2021
Holden took exception to it.
“This is no time for dangerous rhetoric that might stir up civil unrest in our city,” Holden said before the incident in Middle Village.
The next day he blamed the mayor’s comments for endangering the community.
“The reckless comments of Mayor Bill de Blasio and many of our other elected officials put thousands of families in danger,” he said.
The council member has been a longtime critic of de Blasio. Meanwhile, Mayor-elect Eric Adams joined Holden in the neighborhood Saturday to denounce the vandalism and show his support for the community.
“I was deeply disturbed and angered over what happened in this community,” Adams said at the press conference. “It is one thing to protest at an elected official’s office; it is one thing to come to a hearing and voice your concern, but to come to a neighborhood and openly destroy property, be disruptive, throw objects at the residents of a neighborhood — that is unacceptable in our city.”
Adams said the rioters were outside agitators.
“These are not New Yorkers,” he said. “These are outside agitators that have one desire and that is to destroy our city and create conflicts and tensions between New Yorkers.”
The five men arrested were from Brooklyn and New Jersey, according to police.
Adams, a former NYPD officer, said his administration will not put up with such crimes.
“We are not going to allow this to happen…,” he said. “My city will be a safe city. We will have zero tolerance for violence in our city.”