A routine traffic stop of a 75-year-old Hasidic driver in Brooklyn escalated into a protest last night by hundreds of Orthodox Jews, who surrounded a police station house, chanted "No justice no peace," lighted bonfires and set a police car afire. The driver and two other men were arrested, but no serious injuries were reported.
The Hasidim claim the old man is hard of hearing and that the police were being unecessarily rough.
Ok, they might have a legitimate grievance there. So what's the correct response? IMO, it's to intervene, gather a large crowd, confront the police, take pictures, raise a general stink, etc. It is NOT to jump on one of the officers' backs and then incite people to riot.
Witnesses said the police were unnecessarily rough with an elderly man. "Arthur had stepped out of his car, and was pushed by police officers against the car and put in a hand-lock behind his back," said Sariel Widawsky, 49, a co-owner of Schick's bakery, formerly owned by Mr. Schick's family, who said he saw the arrest. "People saw what the police were doing to a 70-to-80-year-old man and starting screaming at police to leave him alone."
"They literally threw him down into the van," Mr. Widawsky said. "He fell on the first step. They picked him up and manhandled him into the van."
"Another witness said the police had overreacted. "For nothing — he didn't do anything — they cuffed him and took him like an animal," said Jacob Jacobvitz, 21.
As rumors spread through the crowd that Schick had been beaten, tensions escalated and hundreds of people in traditional black garb poured onto 16th Ave. from 46th to 50th Sts. They set fire to old magazines, fruit boxes and other trash up and down the avenue.
Firefighters raced to put out at least seven blazes and water down the streets.
Demonstrators smashed the windows of one police cruiser and torched another by throwing a gasoline-soaked rag into its backseat. A helicopter searchlight swept the street, and riot police formed lines along 16th Ave., hollering, "Back on the sidewalk!"
But protesters didn't heed the warnings and ran through the streets, some yelling, "Nazi Germany!" at the officers.
Charming. I guess they don't learn about Godwin (or historical perspective) in kollel.
See, that's the problem here- not the least willingness to consider that you might be wrong, that someone in your community might have overreacted, etc. No, it's "treated him like an animal", "not our fault", and then, of course, the ubiquitous and infuriating "Nazi" cat-calls. It's arrogance, it's entitlement, and it's an embarassment.
Witness Haskel Rosenfeld, 29, said he didn't see any mishandling of Schick.
"Four police put him in handcuffs, walked him down the block and put him in a car," Rosenfeld said. "The police had left, and during that time, people lit fires."
In doing research for a historical novel about a year ago, I read several accounts of pogroms in the early 1900s. The general similarities here are pretty disturbing- (altercation between Jew and non-Jew; non-Jews start spreading rumors that "the Jews beat/killed a Christian"; Christians riot; Jews bleed.) This is actually kind of creepy, and I think it's related to a similar phenomenon we're seeing among the settlers in Israel- everyone thinks brutality and violence is fine as long as they aren't happening to them, and similarly, they think it's OK to use violence against others to make their point. No. WRONG. You don't get to play Lag B'Omer in April just because there are rumors that an elderly Jew may have been mistreated. You have a problem with the police? Protest. March. Boycott. Whatever. Don't act like pogromchiks, and don't you dare call anyone a Nazi over this ridiculous ass-pimple of an incident.
Gargh. So infuriating.
(And no, this is in no way saying all haredim in Brooklyn, or Boro Park, are street punks. But the people involved, and the people who are and will condone this, need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and think about exactly what kind of values they're teaching their young bochrim.)
I think this anonymous guy got it right:
Borough Park Resident: "Everybody was at fault, 100 percent, everybody was at fault."Maybe. If the cops were in fact too rough, then sure. But at this point, I think the Boro Pogromchiks have kind of hurt their credibility just a tad.
Oh, and incidentally, Dov "hooray for racial profiling" Hikind- shut the hell up.
Doug Hikind, State Assemblyman: "There's no excuse for what that took place in terms of the police department...where people were clubbed....young people were maced."Amona syndrome, anyone?