by Tim Harfmann
WILLIAMSBURG — Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg was vandalized before dawn on Nov. 3, as a suspect damaged a $5,000 statue of St. Jude located outside the church’s rectory.
On the same day, cops arrested Michael Gould-Wartofsky, 34, a graduate of Harvard University and a Ph.D. fellow in sociology at New York University, for the attack, charging him with criminal mischief.
Early on Nov. 3, Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, the pastor, was on his way to Mass when he realized something was wrong.
“I looked on the floor and I saw all the plants were on the floor. I said, ‘We didn’t have a storm last night.’ I said, ‘I wonder what happened?”
That’s when Msgr. Gigantiello checked his security cameras.
“[The suspect] actually took the plants, threw them at the rectory door and started screaming at the camera.”
Msgr. Gigantiello said the suspect then walked to the statue of St. Jude, ripped it off of its pedestal and dragged it into the street.
Then, he stomped on the statue and left it in the middle of the street.
“A couple of cars went around it, but one guy stopped, got out of his car; and there was someone walking, and the both of them picked up the statue and put it on the pedestal,” Msgr. Gigantiello said.
Despite the attack, Msgr. Gigantiello forgives the suspect.
“We can talk and try to say, ‘Why are you so angry at the church?’ and maybe we can make peace,” the pastor said.
Gould-Wartfosky wrote a book about the Occupy Wall Street movement that was published by the Oxford University Press and has written for such publications as the Huffington Post and The Nation.
Msgr. Gigantiello also wants to acknowledge and thank the passersby who helped and said the parish plans to buy a new statue to replace the damaged one.