CROWN HEIGHTS – Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Crown HeightsÂ Friday just hours before the SabbathÂ to vent continuing outrage over the videotapedÂ beating of 21-year-old Ehud Halevy at the hands of two officers from the 71stÂ precinct earlier this month.
“If you would have closed your eyes, you would have thought you were talkingÂ about a group of African Americans or a group of Hispanics – now our JewishÂ brothers and sisters have joined us in saying we want safe streets, but we don’tÂ want to b e brutalized and we don’t want to be treated unfairly,” StateÂ Sen. Eric Adams told the crowd outside the 71st Precinct command on EmpireÂ Boulevard.
“It doesn’t matter if a young person is wearing a yarmulke or a Yankee’sÂ baseball cap, police need to treat them with dignity and respect.”
Demonstrators said they would not rest until charges were dropped againstÂ Halevy, who was arrested and charged with assault, trespass, resisting arrest,Â and harassment in connection with the Oct. 8 incident, during which a volunteerÂ security guard allegedly found Halevy sleeping naked in the women’s section ofÂ the ALIYA outreach center and synagogue and called police.
“People are shocked – they’re at a loss for words,” said protester ChayaÂ Stern, 24. “There’s a lot of fear it could happen again.”
The precinct’s top brass have rushed to calm those fears even as localÂ elected officials call for the termination of Officer Luis Vega, who was caughtÂ on surveillance video repeatedly punching Halevy during the arrest. Vega hasÂ been put on desk duty pending further investigation.
“This is very shocking, and it can lead to an erosion of trust between theÂ police and the community,” Deputy Inspector John LewisÂ told residents at the precinct community council meeting Thursday. “We try toÂ build trust because there are always going to be negative interactions withÂ police and we have to do our best to garner trust within the community.”
The demonstration drew more strollers than signs, and conversations betweenÂ protesters and police were largely cordial, if strained. ALIYA’s director RabbiÂ Moishe Feiglin even encouraged demonstrators to put on tefillin – religiousÂ articles worn by observant men during prayer – and pray briefly outside theÂ station house.
“Aliya is committed to ensuring that its center will always remain a safeÂ haven for young adults that need a place to go,” Feiglin wrote to supporters onÂ Facebook. “Ehud Halevi has been part of Aliya’s family for the past month andÂ his best interests have been and will continue to be our best interests.”
The rabbi said he believed the crisis was part of a larger divine plan, andÂ that justice would be served.
“Everything happens for a good reason and we’re going to see a good outcomeÂ come out of this,” he told the crowd. “Please remember the police are here forÂ our protection – a few bad apples does not spoil the pot.”
Source: DNA Info