The victim of a Jewish hate crime attack called out Democratic Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg for granting a plea deal to the man who assaulted him.
"Why is he getting a break? I really can’t fathom why he’s getting a deal. Me, personally, I wanted to go to trial, I wanted to see full justice," victim Joseph Borgen told the Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday during the sentencing of his attacker, Waseem Awawdeh, who said after the attack that he "would do it again." Borgen was attacked during a May 2021 clash between supporters of Israel and Palestinians.
Bragg's office offered a plea deal of 18 months in prison in exchange for Awawdeh admitting guilt to attempted assault in the second degree as a hate crime as well as criminal possession of a weapon.
"No one should ever feel unsafe because of their religion, and we do not tolerate the antisemitic hate displayed by the defendant in this case," Bragg's office said in a statement.
Borgen argued the sentence is not enough and sends the wrong "message."
"What kind of message does this send—to everybody, to all victims of hate crime?" Borgen said. "Not just Jewish people but anyone who is a victim of a hate crime. You can say you won’t do it again, get arrested while on bail, do whatever you want, and you know what? We’ll give you a slap on the wrist. It’s okay."
The plea comes despite the attacker's comments following his arrest in 2021. "If I could do it again, I would do it again," Awawdeh allegedly told jail personnel. "I have no problem doing it again."
Bragg's lenient sentence comes as New York City continues to struggle with crime. The city instituted bail reform that is keeping criminals out of prison and reoffending. A handful of thieves who continue to be released are committing one-third of retail crime.
The mother of a teenage girl whom a homeless woman pushed onto the tracks in a New York City subway station recently demanded city leadership "do something" about crime in the city.
Bragg has been the center of scrutiny after his arrest of former president Donald Trump. He was charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records surrounding payments to former lawyer Michael Cohen, who allegedly then made hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Bragg in late April moved to bar Trump from reviewing documents in his case without the supervision of lawyers.