Eight years ago, James Polite was on his way.
Despite a troubled home life, the teen found place a volunteer for Barack Obama’s first presidential bid, registering voters and canvassing neighborhoods in New York.
Next, he met former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at a gay-pride rally. She arranged to get Polite accepted at prestigious Jewish co-educational Brandeis University, not to mention an internship on the city council.
He worked with Quinn and a Manhattan district attorney for several years on issues involving hate crime, gay rights, domestic violence and sexual assault.
But on Friday police arrested James Polite, 26, charging him with four hate crimes including one in which he allegedly scrawled, “Die Jew Rats We Are Here,” “Jew Better Be Ready” and “Kill All Jews” in the Union Temple on the Eastern Parkway in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn.
Ironically, the temple was planning a last-minute “get-out-the-vote” Democratic Party event with Broad City actress Ilana Glazer that had to be called off as a result of the anti-Semitic attack.
“This individual went into the facility, a facility where people go to pray and worship, and scrawled some pretty derogatory hate filled messages,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said about Polite.
Glazer, who was to have hosted vote event, was also planning to schedule a political forum with state candidates Andrew Gounardes, Jim Gaughran and left-wing talk show host Amy Goodman when the decision to cancel the event was made.
“What was scary was that it was all over the building, and then the cops were kind of searching the building,” Glazer said. “It was too freaky. It was too freaky to hold it.”
But it just wasn’t Union Temple. Polite has also been charged with setting fires outside yeshivas and synagogues in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and another fire at a banquet hall.
Polite was also charged with second-degree arson and second-degree reckless endangerment — both hate crimes — in connection with a fire set early Friday in the coat closet of a Yeshiva school on Hewes Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood and fires at six other nearby locations, the NYPD said.
The locations appear to be associated with the Jewish community in Brooklyn.
A janitor at the Yeshiva school noticed the fire, which was likely set between 2 and 2:30 a.m., and called authorities, NYPD Sgt. Lee Jones said. Police apprehended Polite at the scene. He was taken to Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn for a psychological evaluation, Jones said.
While Polite was at the hospital, police determined he was the same man wanted in connection with the anti-Semitic graffiti found at Union Temple, Jones said.