Toronto Press Hails Judge for Rebuking Police Mishandling of Rabbi

The Toronto Star and the Toronto Telegram have hailed the report of a justice who this week rebuked Toronto police for their manhandling of an American rabbi.

Justice Dalton Wells, who conducted an investigation of the arrest of Rabbi Norbert Leiner of New Jersey, denounced the police for “foul and abusive” language and for striking Rabbi Leiner in the face twice “without any justification whatever.” Justice Wells made his investigation as a one-man Ontario Government Royal Commission. Previously it was disclosed that Rabbi Leiner had filed suit for damages against 18 Toronto police.

Rabbi Leiner was arrested by police seeking a burglary suspect. When he declined to ride to the police station in the police car because it was Sabbath, he was forced into the car. Justice Wells absolved the policemen of anti-Semitism but criticized them for not understanding the religious reasons given by the rabbi for his lack of cooperation with the police.

The Toronto Star said it was “no excuse” that the arresting officers were “inexperienced” or that Rabbi Leiner was not cooperative in answering questions. The Star also asserted that Justice Wells’ report “rightly criticizes the tendency of police to arrest on a charge of vagrancy. This is altogether too convenient a hold-all for the police. Rabbi Leiner was obviously not a vagrant.”

The Telegram declared in its editorial that the case pointed up the need for police “to know something of the people who live in this area.” The police, the Telegram added, “need not be authorities in comparative religion but they should expect differences in religious and cultural customs that may require adjustments in the ordinary application of police rule.”

NEXT STORY