Teen Anti-Israel Protester Accused of Vandalizing War Memorial Shaves Head to Conceal Identity

Teen Anti-Israel Protester Accused of Vandalizing War Memorial Shaves Head to Conceal Identity

A 16-year-old student from Tottenville High School, known for his participation in anti-Israel protests organized by the group Within Our Lifetime, has been accused of vandalizing a revered war memorial during a violent rally. The teenager, who was identified as one of the vandals defacing the WWI memorial dedicated to Manhattan’s 107th Infantry Regiment and a statue of Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, attempted to conceal his identity by shaving his head as media scrutiny intensified.

The suspect, whose name is being withheld due to his age, appeared in Manhattan court on Friday with a buzz cut, which he adopted after being captured on video and in photographs while spray-painting the word “GAZA” on the war memorials in Central Park on Monday. The teen’s family used a keffiyeh to shield him from photographers as they left the court after his arraignment on felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor graffiti charges.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny confirmed that the suspect was seen on video writing “Gaza” with spray paint and resorted to shaving his head upon learning that he was wanted by the authorities. Facial identification recognition technology was employed to identify him, as the incident was widely shared on various social media platforms.

The teenager was taken into custody on Thursday evening following a three-hour standoff between his family and the police at their Staten Island residence. The suspect’s Instagram account, which had posted a picture of the police outside his house with a caption that read, “NYPD get out,” has since been removed.

The suspect’s parents, described as Palestinian by police sources, negotiated with law enforcement before agreeing to walk their son to the 121st Precinct station house, where he was arrested. The incident was initially investigated as a potential hate crime but was later determined not to be one.

The accused student, who is politically active and frequently posts about Palestine on social media, has been described by fellow students as “sweet” and deeply involved in social justice causes. However, neighbors believe he may have been influenced by a misguided crowd.

The despicable act of vandalism occurred on Monday night during a protest against Israel’s war in Gaza, as demonstrators attempted to disrupt the star-studded Met Gala at the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art. The suspect was identified four days later, thanks to tips received through the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline.

Mayor Eric Adams, appalled by the offensive act, personally donated $5,000 towards the apprehension and conviction of those responsible. The suspect now faces charges related to the defacement of the Sherman statue and the WWI memorial.

Author: CrimeDoor

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