Councilwoman Inna Vernikov Announces New Legion Chapter in Brooklyn
Updated: Jan 29
By Rich Calder
(January 28, 2023 / New York Post) This Brooklyn lawmaker has plenty of chops.
Rookie Councilwoman Inna Vernikov was so sickened by the October 2018 mass murder of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that it motivated her to get self-defense training and avoid being an easy target, she told The Post.
The 5-foot, 3-inch Republican and Ukraine native is now calling on fellow Jews to follow her lead as anti-Semitic crimes continue to surge both citywide and nationally.
“If we don’t help ourselves, no one is coming to save us,” the 38-year-old pol said. “The NYPD is great, but [cops] can’t be everywhere.”
Vernikov has recruited Legion, a nonprofit group that predominantly trains Jews in the skills of Krav Maga — a martial art developed for the Israel Defense Forces that combines judo, karate, boxing, wrestling, and aikido. The group also teaches counter-terrorism techniques and first aid.
She spent nearly three years taking classes with the nonprofit, learning Krav Maga, active-shooter-response-training, and other self-defense tactics. She has battle scars to prove it: a broken leg suffered while training to defend herself against a gunman.
Vernikov said she doesn’t own a gun but has fired pistols plenty of times while doing firearms training with another organization.
She said she is in the process of completing a course to secure a state firearms license and hopes to soon own her own pistol — which would put her in direct conflict with many gun-hating progressive Democrats on the City Council.
Legion, which partners with gyms across the country to offer training by ex-US and Israeli military and other combat experts, will begin offering classes in Vernikov’s district on Feb. 1 at the Beth El Jewish Center on Homecrest Avenue.
Corey Feldman, president of Legion, said Vernikov might be petite but was fearless during training — and packed quite a punch.
“She’s tough,” he recalled. “When she touched [training] gloves, she was ready to give it her all.”
Vernikov previously served voluntarily as a chairperson on the nonprofit’s board, which does not receive city funding.
She said she stepped down last year after being sworn in as a councilwoman serving Sheepshead Bay and parts of other southern Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Jewish populations.
The training is “something very important for Jews to do – especially visible Jews who wear yarmulkes and who dress Orthodox,” said Vernikov. “They’re the most vulnerable targets.”
For those who’d dare confront the punching pol, be warned: besides knowing how to fight, Vernikov carries pepper spray in her purse — and isn’t afraid to use it.
She recalled a “scary” situation on an insolated subway platform late one evening a few years back. She said a deranged, much-larger man began screaming, “Bitch, open the door!” so he could get in without paying.
Vernikov said she confidently walked toward the man and stared him down. He backed off.
“I was ready to Mace him!” recalled Vernikov. “I had it out. I know how to hold it and was ready because I didn’t know if he had a knife, a weapon, or what. It was because I was taught to have the confidence to walk toward [potential attackers] rather than stand there.”
Feldman said his group’s “mission is to train the sheep to become sheepdogs.”
“People don’t mess with Israelis, but sadly the Jewish population in America has developed a reputation of being soft,” he added.
View article on the New York Post website.