Apparent Gaza activists hurl paint at homes of Brooklyn Museum leaders, including Jewish director

People purporting to be pro-Palestinian activists hurled red paint at the homes of top leaders at the Brooklyn Museum, including its Jewish director, and also splashed paint across the front of diplomatic buildings for Germany and the Palestinian Authority early Wednesday, prompting a police investigation and condemnation from city authorities.

Red paint covers portions of the entrance to the German consulate building, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in New York. Pro-Palestinian protesters have vandalized locations associated with the Brooklyn Museum and United Nations in New York City, throwing red paint across their entrances in opposition to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. (AP Photo/Sophie Rosenbaum)

NEW YORK (AP) — People purporting to be pro-Palestinian activists hurled red paint at the homes of top leaders at the Brooklyn Museum, including its Jewish director, and also splashed paint across the front of diplomatic buildings for Germany and the Palestinian Authority early Wednesday, prompting a police investigation and condemnation from city authorities.

Mayor Eric Adams, in a post on the social platform X, shared images of a brick building splashed with red paint with a banner hung in front of the door that called the museum’s director, Anne Pasternak, a “white-supremacist Zionist.”

“This is not peaceful protest or free speech. This is a crime, and it’s overt, unacceptable antisemitism,” Adams wrote, sending sympathy to Pasternak and other museum board members whose homes were defaced. “These actions will never be tolerated in New York City for any reason.”


Museum spokesperson Taylor Maatman said four officials were targeted. Not all are Jewish, she said. A report was filed with police.

“Earlier today, the homes of people connected to the Brooklyn Museum were vandalized in an attempt to threaten and intimidate them,” Maatman said in a statement. “For two centuries, the Brooklyn Museum has worked to foster mutual understanding through art and culture, and we have always supported peaceful protest and open, respectful dialogue. Violence, vandalism, and intimidation have no place in that discourse.”

Red paint was also splashed across the front of a Manhattan building that houses Germany’s consulate and its United Nations mission, and another building that is a headquarters for for Palestinian diplomats. Flyers critical of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, were scattered outside the building.

It wasn’t immediately clear who was responsible or whether the acts of vandalism were all related.

A spokesperson for the New York Police Department declined to comment, saying the agency was investigating and would provide more information later. The German mission said its security staff was in close contact with New York authorities. A message seeking comment was also sent to Palestinian diplomats.

Hundreds of protesters marched on the Brooklyn Museum late last month, briefly setting up tents in the lobby and unfurling a “Free Palestine” banner from the roof before police moved in to make dozens of arrests. Similar protests have happened since October at other New York City museums.


The protest group Within Our Lifetime and other organizers of that demonstration said the museum is “deeply invested in and complicit” in Israel’s military actions in Gaza through its leadership, trustees, corporate sponsors and donors — a claim museum officials have denied.

The group said in a statement that it did not coordinate the paint attacks but “we commend” any such actions taken against complicit institutions.

City Comptroller Brad Lander, who was among the New York politicians to speak out against the protests, said the Brooklyn Museum has done more to grapple with questions of “power, colonialism, racism & the role of art” than many other museums.

“The cowards who did this are way over the line into antisemitism, harming the cause they claim to care about, and making everyone less safe,” he wrote on X.

The grand beaux arts museum, the city’s second largest, sits at the edge of Crown Heights, home to one of the city’s largest communities of Orthodox Jews.

It is no stranger to ideological confrontations.

Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani threatened to close the museum in 1999 over artwork he considered disrespectful of Catholics. Protesters have staged demonstrations inside, outside, and on top of the building repeatedly over the years. And in 2016, pro-Palestinian activists demonstrated against a photo exhibit on life in Israel and the West Bank, saying it did not take a strong enough stance against Israeli “colonization.”


The paint attacks came the same week that Within Our Lifetime organized a large demonstration outside a New York City exhibition memorializing victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival. The group called it “Zionist propaganda” and dismissed the music festival, where hundreds died, as “a rave next to a concentration camp.”

That protest also drew condemnations from across the political spectrum.

“The callousness, dehumanization, and targeting of Jews on display at last night’s protest outside the Nova Festival exhibit was atrocious antisemitism — plain and simple,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday on X.

___

Associated Press reporter Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed. Follow Philip Marcelo at x.com/philmarcelo.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that only one of the four Brooklyn Museum leaders whose homes was splashed with paint is Jewish, according to the museum’s spokesperson.

Donate to Support Independent Journalism!

Donate Now!