Florida police are investigating an alleged hate-fueled incident where a group of young men terrorized a Jewish family, who were visiting from Teaneck, New Jersey. The men shouted anti-Semitic threats at the family, but stopped the intimidating harassment when a man with a gun intervened, according to several reports.
Eric Orgen and his family were visiting Bal Harbour, located a few miles north of Miami Beach. Orgen, his wife Karen, his 16-year-old daughter, and Mark Schwartz, the deputy mayor of Teaneck, had just left a synagogue in the area and were walking on the sidewalk of Collins Avenue.
Four men said to be in their 20s in a white SUV allegedly drove up to the family and began screaming anti-Semitic remarks, “F*** you, Jew” and “Die Jew.” They also said they were going to rape his wife and daughter, according to a Facebook post written by Orgen. The group reportedly threw garbage and a water bottle at the family while yelling, “Free Palestine!”
“They just started screaming some derogatory things towards Jewish people out the window,” Orgen told WPEC-TV. “My first thought was just making sure my wife and daughter were behind me so I could take the brunt of anything that was going to happen.”
A driver of an Audi was right behind the SUV and allegedly witnessed the hateful harassment. The motorist, who was armed, got out of his car and “pulled his gun to protect us and chased them as they drove away,” Orgen claimed. “So thankful that a total stranger stepped up to protect us!”
Orgen reported the incident to local law enforcement, which is investigating the alleged incident.
“It’s a scary world we live in but the world is big enough for everyone to live peacefully. We all bleed red,” Orgen told WSVN-TV, adding that he believed the incident was a hate crime.
Bal Harbour Mayor Gabriel Groisman issued a statement on the reported incident.
“Bal Harbour Police Department is actively investigating the incident, and I am confident that they will track down the perpetrators,” Groisman wrote on Facebook. “We have ZERO TOLERANCE for criminal conduct in our municipality, and we will do everything in our power to keep all residents and visitors in Bal Harbour safe.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava issued a statement regarding recent anti-Semitic incidents in South Florida that began following the commencement of the most recent Israel-Gaza conflict.
“Acts of hate and violence against any community are not tolerated in Miami-Dade County,” Cava said. “Hate and intolerance contradict the foundations of our community – a place where so many generations of people found a safe home after fleeing their own countries to build a new life with their families.”
“As a member of the Jewish community and the first Jewish Mayor of Miami-Dade, acts of antisemitism in our County cut especially close to home,” she continued. “They also deepen my commitment to ensure Miami-Dade remains a place where all people are welcomed, respected, and made to feel at home, regardless of where they come from or their faith.”
On May 14, Miami police arrested Joseph Bounds, who was driving a van that was covered in anti-Semitic slurs and swastikas disrupting a pro-Israel rally in Boca Raton. The vehicle flew Palestinian flags, and had hateful remarks such as “Jews killed Jesus,” “Jews are not white,” “vax the Jews,” and “Hitler was right.” There were at least six men raising their arms in the Nazi salute, according to the Miami Herald.
Miami police arrested Bounds, who is from Denver, for refusing to obey police orders during a traffic stop.
We rally for peace and this van filled with hate, call for genocide and threats kept circling. Thank you to our local law enforcement for keeping us safe. Hard to believe in the heart of Boca Raton if didn’t see it myself. pic.twitter.com/SuuOBEtumd
— Rabbi Efrem Goldberg (@RabbiGoldberg) May 12, 2021