Authorities: Cornell University student Patrick Dai arrested for posting anti-Semitic threats online

By | November 1, 2023

NEW YORK — A Cornell University student was arrested Tuesday for allegedly making violent online threats against Jewish students at school.

Governor Kathy Hochul said state police and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force questioned him earlier Tuesday.

Patrick Dai accused of publishing anti-Semitic threats

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York said Patrick Dai, 21, was arrested for posting anti-Semitic threats, including: “If you see a Jewish ‘person’ on campus, follow them home and cut the throat.

The feds say Dai is from the Rochester area and faces charges of posting threats to kill or harm others using interstate community communications.

The complaint alleges he also said he would shoot up 104 West, the university’s kosher dining hall, among other violent messages.

“My family, last night we had a discussion about if I could be safe on campus or if I should come home,” freshman Davian Gekman said.

The university released the following statement:

“Cornell University is grateful to the FBI for working so quickly to identify and apprehend the suspect in this case, a Cornell student, who remains in custody. We also thank Cornell Police and Chief Anthony Bellamy for their extraordinary efforts made to support the investigation and protect our campus community. The university will continue to provide assistance to law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office as this case progresses.

“We remain shocked and condemn these horrific anti-Semitic threats and believe they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We know that our campus community will continue to support each other in the days to come. Cornell Police will maintain their enforcement enhanced security presence on campus as the university continues to focus on meeting the needs of our students, faculty and staff.

State police now stand guard outside the Cornell Center for Jewish Living.

Leron Thumim, a Cornell graduate and president of the Cornell Jewish Life Fund, said the governor promised to accelerate security improvements.

“Just because it was one person doesn’t mean that’s the only reason to be afraid,” he said.

A Westchester student shared photos of the “new Intifada” scrawled on a campus sidewalk and “Zionism equals genocide.”

“We don’t feel like we’re living in 2023. We feel like we’re living in Nazi Germany,” one student said. “How can you think about your classes or anything? It seems so trivial when your life is literally threatened.”

As for Dai, he is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday in Syracuse. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Governor Kathy Hochul unveils anti-hate initiatives

The arrest comes a day after the governor increased the state police presence on campuses across the state and met with Jewish students at Cornell.

“You might think you can stay anonymous and post whatever you want, but there will be consequences,” Hochul said.

The governor is taking action to protect people living in at-risk communities and on college campuses across the state. But particular attention is paid to City University of New York campus.

“We cannot allow any New Yorker to live in fear, because the day we are willing to accept it will be the day our moral compass breaks and spins out of control,” Hochul said Tuesday during a speech has Columbia University.

Watch: Governor Hochul Addresses Rise of Hate Speech on College Campuses

Hochul wasted no time deploying state resources to identify threats of violence on college campuses after meeting with Cornell students.

“There is zero tolerance for hate in our state,” Hochul said.

The governor said she is particularly concerned about continued anti-Semitic problems on CUNY campuses. A CUNY law graduate gave a fiery anti-Israel commencement speech last May and there have been recent pro-Palestinian protests.

Hochul appointed former state Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to review anti-Semitic and anti-discrimination policies at CUNY’s 25 campuses across the five boroughs.

“While his assessment focuses on CUNY, his recommendations will serve as a road map for institutions across the state and nation,” Hochul said.

The governor, who recently visited a kibbutz near the Gaza border where 70 people were murdered by Hamas, also set aside $700,000 to expand the work of the state police social media analytics unit, with a focus on school violence, gang activity and guns illegal. It also allocated $75 million in grants to law enforcement to combat hate crimes.

The actions occurred in the middle a worrying increase in hate crimes. THE Anti-Defamation League said there were 312 incidents between the October 7 Hamas attack and October 23, compared to 64 during the same period the previous year.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations reported 110 incidents of anti-Muslim bias for the same period. There were 63 in August.

“I spoke to the SUN and CUNY chancellors and private university representatives to share our concerns about the consequences of free speech crossing the line into hate speech,” Hochul said.

In a statement, Lippman said “anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its forms are unacceptable” and that he would review CUNY policies to ensure all students are safe from bullying.

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