Brooklyn politician urges Jews to take self-defense classes

Brooklyn councilwoman Inna Vernikov at a demonstration against plea deals for perpetrators of hate crimes against Jews, January 27, 2023. (Facebook)

“If we don’t help ourselves, no one is coming to save us,” said Inna Vernikov, who learned a martial art and how to shoot a gun over recent years.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Brooklyn, New York, politician is urging all Jews to follow her lead in taking self-defense classes in order to protect themselves from the rising surge in antisemitism in the city, the New York Post reported Saturday.

Inna Vernikov, a 5-foot 3-inch tall Jewish councilwoman of Ukrainian extraction, told the paper, “If we don’t help ourselves, no one is coming to save us. The NYPD is great, but [the police] can’t be everywhere.”

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She started taking classes after a white supremacist invaded the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on a Saturday morning in 2018, murdering 11 Jews. She worked out for almost three years at Legion,  a nonprofit organization that focuses on the martial art of krav maga, which is used extensively by soldiers of the IDF.

She also trained in how to respond to an active-shooter scenario, learned how to shoot a gun, and gained the confidence to face down threats from people much larger than her.

“The training is “something very important for Jews to do – especially visible Jews who wear yarmulkes and who dress Orthodox,” she said.  “They’re the most vulnerable targets.”

According to their website, Legion, founded in 2014, “trains Jews around the world to come to their own rescue,” with their motto being “From strength comes freedom.” They emphasize practical training with ex-military personnel from both the U.S. and Israel, and will take on students of any age, saying, “You are never too young or old to train how to better protect yourself.”

The 38-year-old first-time politician serves several neighborhoods with large Jewish populations. She has publicly campaigned against antisemitism, and specifically called out Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for “downgrad[ing] serious crimes to misdemeanors,” on Friday, including letting off those who commit hate crimes against Jews with easy plea deals.

Vernikov was speaking at a small demonstration outside the building where one of the prime assailants of Joey Borgen, brutally beaten for being Jewish in June 2021, was appearing in court.

“This is unacceptable,” she said, adding, “[Bragg] sends the victims of antisemitic hate crimes, all crimes, to hell.”

Writing on her Facebook account afterwards, she said that the perpetrator, who had said he’d “gladly do it again” after he was arrested, was “slated to receive an offer from Bragg’s office for 6 months in jail.” Public outcry worked, she said, and “there was no plea offer made in court yesterday and the case is postured to go to trial.”

Source: World Israel News


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