NYPD counterterrorism unit investigating 'radicalized' pro-Palestinian student riot at Queens high school after Israel-supporting teacher forced to hide

"The vile show of antisemitism at Hillcrest High School was motivated by ignorance-fueled hatred."

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The New York City Police counterterrorism bureau is investigating an incident at Hillcrest High School in Queens on Monday, after hundreds of "radicalized' students rioted in the hallway upon learning that one of their Jewish teachers attended a pro-Israel rally, reportedly forcing her to hide in a locked office for nearly two hours. 

A video of the incident was shared to TikTok with the caption, "POV: your school had 1 lockdown, multiple fights, and riots just because of a teacher that choose to wake up one day and choose to support against Zionism and occupation." 

In a post on X, New York City Mayor Eric Adams condemned the actions of the students. He said, "The vile show of antisemitism at Hillcrest High School was motivated by ignorance-fueled hatred, plain and simple, and it will not be tolerated in any of our schools, let alone anywhere else in our city."

"We are better than this," Adams added. 

"NYC Schools is already conducting a full investigation into how this incident took place," he continued, "and, this week, Project Pivot teams will begin outreach with students at Hillcrest to ensure they understand why this behavior was unacceptable."

"No student, teacher, or staff member should fear for their safety in our schools," the mayor concluded.

According to the New York Post, the riot was pre-planned by students after they saw the teacher's Facebook profile photo which showed her at the Oct. 9 pro-Israel rally in Queens. The photo showed her holding a sign that said, "I stand with Israel." 

One senior told the outlet that after they saw the teacher holding the sign and supporting Israel that "A bunch of kids decided to make a group chat, expose her, talk about it, and then talk about starting a riot.”

The school and the New York City Police Department learned of the student's plan just in time to get the teacher into an office and lock the door. City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Queens) said that the NYPD sent a couple of dozen police officers along with its counterterrorism unit to investigate a possible threat against the school. 

Speaking about the dispatch of the counterterrorism unit, Gennaro said, "Whether it was one student or multiple students who did or said something, whatever the trigger was, something happened." He added, "I know from my many years on the City Council that the counterterrorism task force is not engaged unless they believe it is potentially a serious situation." 

The teacher told the outlet, "I have been a teacher for 23 years in the New York City public school system, for the last seven at Hillcrest High School." She continued, "I have worked hard to be supportive of our entire student body and an advocate for our community, and was shaken to my core by the calls to violence against me that occurred online and outside my classroom last week."

"No one should ever feel unsafe at school. students and teachers alike," the teacher said. "It’s my hope in the days ahead we can find a way to have meaningful discussions about challenging topics with respect for each other’s diverse perspectives and shared humanity." 

"Unless we can learn to see each other as people we will never be able to create a safe learning community," she concluded. 

Since the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel by Hamas, New York has become a hotbed for pro-Palestine protests, including in several schools across the city. Earlier this month, students in Brooklyn walked out to protest. During the event, students could be heard chanting "F*ck the Jews" and "Alluha Akbar." 

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