Hate Crime

Hewlett hate crime stirs migrant crisis conversation


An alleged Hewlett hate crime has raised concerns regarding the migrant crisis for Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.  

“We are here today because of the unfortunate situation that we have here in America, where our federal government will not protect our borders, our state government has laws that make it less safe and where criminals have more rights than victims,” Blakeman said at Tuesday news conference.

On Feb. 4 at around 1 p.m., on Steven Drive in Hewlett, Bechir Lehbeib, 26, allegedly stole a United States and Israeli combination flag and a banner that read “In this home we stand with Israel.”

The man who was victimized by this alleged act, tried to get the property back and was met with Lehbeib, hitting him and throwing him to the ground causing contusions, swelling and pain to the head, said First Deputy Commissioner of Police Kevin Smith.

Lehbeib then stomped on the flag, saying that he was Palestinian, Smith said. Lehbeib resides in a migrant shelter in Staten Island as well as in Jamaica, Queens.

Blakeman said that Lehbeib said he was looking for work in Hewlett and had emigrated from South Africa.

He was located and arrested at the scene and charged with assault, robbery and criminal mischief, Smith said.

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said that at the Feb. 5 arraignment, her office requested $200,000 bail, an order of protection and for Lehbeib surrender his surrender. The judge set $50,000 bail and agreed to the passport surrender and order of protection.

Police said the investigation is continuing.