Teachers in Fear at NYC School Where Students Staged Anti-Semitic Riot

Pro-Hamas rally in New York City (Adam Gray/Getty Images)
November 28, 2023

Teachers at a New York City high school said Monday that they don't feel safe in the aftermath of an anti-Semitic riot that broke out at the school.

Faculty told New York City Schools chancellor David Banks in a closed-door meeting that they were concerned for their well-being after students rioted in the hallways of Hillcrest High School in Queens on Nov. 20, an unnamed source told the New York Post. The riot broke out after students learned that a Jewish teacher at the school had attended a pro-Israel rally and posted about it on social media.

Hundreds of students rallied in the hallways of the school while waving Palestinian flags, tearing a water fountain from the wall in the process, as the teacher hid in a locked office. Students had made a group chat to expose the teacher and plan their demonstration, the Post reported over the weekend. Twenty-five police officers were deployed to stop the riot at the school, principal Scott Milczewski said. Police arrested and charged with aggravated harassment an 18-year-old student, who allegedly made threats in a group chat, the next day.

Banks on Monday revealed to reporters that the instigators had received punishment—though he did not say exactly what the disciplinary action was—and that some students were suspended, according to the Post. He also said that there were calls to "suspend 500 students" who took part in the riot, but said that "we are not doing that."

He also said the school went on lockdown two days after the riot because a student said there would be a similar disturbance if the administration did not fire the teacher, who will return to work this week.

Banks criticized those who said the students were "radicalized."

"This notion that this place, these kids are radicalized and anti-Semitic is the height of irresponsibility," Banks said. "I will not accept that at all."

When news of the riot broke last week, Mayor Eric Adams (D.) said on X, formerly Twitter, that the "vile show of anti-Semitism at Hillcrest High School was motivated by ignorance-fueled hatred" and would "not be tolerated in any of our schools, let alone anywhere else in our city."

Anti-Semitic incidents have surged in the United States in the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel. Such incidents have increased nearly 400 percent since Israel's war on the terror group began, according to a report the Anti-Defamation League released last month.