Tuesday, September 17, 2019
For blacks and Jews, annual Crown Heights festival takes on greater significance following string of attacks
At the end of August, the New York Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force investigated an alleged anti-Semitic attack near Brower Park in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Someone had allegedly thrown a block of ice at a Hasidic man driving a car. It was the second allegedly anti-Semitic attack that week, coming days after an assailant had bashed a Hasidic man's head with a brick.
Two weeks later, at the same park, the famously fraught neighborhood projected a much different image: one of a diverse and peaceful community.
At a community festival on Sunday, a popular Orthodox Jewish children's singer shared the stage with a Caribbean dance group on stilts. Jewish and African-American children played together on a closed-off street. And inside a tent behind the stage, attendees sat in a circle and discussed contentious issues like hate crimes and gun violence.
This was the fourth annual #OneCrownHeights festival, but it felt especially relevant this year following a string of attacks on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn that has heightened tensions in the area.
Crown Heights, a majority African-American neighborhood with a sizable Hasidic Jewish community and a growing population of hipsters, was the site of some of those attacks.
The violence has sparked painful memories of the 1991 riots there, which began when a black boy was killed accidentally by a car escorting Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late head of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement headquartered in the neighborhood. The death touched off three days of rioting in which black youths attacked religious Jews, killing one.
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