Thursday, October 18, 2012
A video showing cops in Crown Heights beating an unarmed Jewish man is prompting more bad blood between Hasidim and neighborhood police, adding to tensions that are said to have been simmering for more than a year.
Residents say their relationship with the 71st Precinct and Brooklyn’s top brass was already contentious before footage of officers pummeling Ehud Halevy, 21, in an E. New York Ave. youth center went viral Sunday night.
The video adds to the anger precipitated by a previous recording, captured in September 2011, that showed cops arresting Moshe Sani, a graying Hasidic man who had fallen into a set of bushes on Albany Ave., as he begged the officers to let him go free because Rosh Hashana was about to begin.
“They just pick on people,” Sani, 40, told the Daily News. “They did it again.”
Like Halevy, video of Sani’s collar first appeared on CrownHeights.Info, a news site for the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community.
Conflicts between cops and Orthodox Jews are becoming more common, local leaders said.
“Blacks and Latinos are the ones usually complaining,” said state Sen. Eric Adams (D-Crown Heights). “The problem is impacting all communities.
“It’s gone beyond the Brownsvilles of the city,” he added. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not immediately respond to a request by The News seeking comment.
Sani said he was cuffed after he asked officers to stop interrogating a Hasidic driver who just been pulled over in a traffic stop, because Rosh Hashana was beginning.
“I said, ‘Bring your supervisor,’ ” Sani recalled in an interview with The News on Wednesday. “That made them crazy. (The officer) said, ‘Come over here. Why are you resisting arrest?’
“So I tried to walk away. He tried to run toward me. I put my hands on his chest to say, ‘Relax, I am leaving.’ Then I am in the bushes.”
Sani spent a night in police custody during the holiday that marks the Jewish new year, inciting anger among Crown Heights Jews.
Court records detailing the run-in were sealed, said a spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, but Sani said he was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer and received six months’ probation.
“I just wanted it to go away,” Sani said.
The Jewish Leadership Council provided The News with other cases it has noted since the Sani arrest, incidents in which Jewish crime victims have alleged that investigators were either too aggressive or non-responsive to their complaints.
“We have allegations against police all the time,” said Barry Sugar, who runs the Kingston Ave.-based organization.
Sugar’s most recent example highlights another Rosh Hashana drama. Last month, Shmuel Hahn, a 51-year-old father of 12, was jumped by four men, who beat him and broke his jaw.
Detectives have met with Hahn only once since the alleged Sept. 18 beatdown, prompting Sugar to write police brass demanding an explanation.
Halevy, 21, was accused of assaulting cops and hit with felony charges despite a videotape of the incident that showed him on the receiving end of a brutal police beating.
Elected officials and Jewish leaders have called for the firing of the two cops involved, and the incident is being investigated by the Brooklyn district attorney.
Halevy’s lawyer, Normal Siegel, said, “the goal is to eliminate biases within the NYPD.
“You can’t dismiss the possibility of anti-Semitism,” Siegel added. “There are racial, ethnic, class problems with the NYPD. It is an issue that the police commissioner and the mayor can’t ignore.”
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