Menu JTA Search

Rabbi Says No Responsible Leader in Williamsburg Invited Jdl to Protect Jews

A leading Williamsburg rabbi declared today that “no responsible leader” in that Jewish community had invited the Jewish Defense League for protection after clashes broke out between local Jews and blacks following the death of a Negro girl who was struck by a truck driven by a Hassidic Jew. Rabbi Meir Kahane, JDL leader, and four JDL members were arrested after a clash with police. Rabbi Bernard Weinberger of the Young Israel of Williamsburg added that, during the sporadic violence between the mostly Hassidic Jews and blacks, a telegram had been sent to Rabbi Kahane, urging him not to send JDL members to the area. Rabbi Weinberger said the telegram had been sent by the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg, an umbrella group for the section’s Jewish organizations, after it had learned of JDL plans to send its members to the area. Police reported that the truck was in good working order but that it had been impossible for the driver to stop the vehicle when the girl Cynthia James, 13, darted into the street in front of the truck. Police said that after learning of the girl’s death, Negro residents of the area threw bottles, rubbish and other debris at passing cars. A Hassidic Jew and his son, riding in a cab, were hit by the objects. The father was injured slightly but his son was critically hurt and was to undergo brain surgery. Two Molotov cocktails have been thrown into homes of Hassidic Jews but no damage or injuries have resulted. Windows have been broken and firecrackers thrown into a Hassidic synagogue.

On Sunday night, police acted to disperse hostile crowds of Jews and Negroes gathered on a street corner. The five JDL members, including Rabbi Kahane, were arrested when they refused to move. Rabbi Kahane was charged with assaulting Patrolman David Speciale of the Tactical Police Force, with obstructing a police officer and with resisting arrest. He was released yesterday in his own custody for a hearing on Sept. 10, He said he would file charges before the Police Civilian Review Board against three policemen in the incident. Rabbi Juda Lichtenstein of the Yeshiva Ahavath Israel said that the area needed more policemen but that he felt that Deputy Chief Inspector Jack Angrist and Captain Ralph Cohen of the local precinct “are doing as much as they can do.” Rabbi Weinberger declared that “the very fact of having 50 JDL members on the streets with clubs tends to augment the tension.” He said that currently, the situation was quiet, adding that Williamsburg Jews were obeying appeals from their rabbis not to loiter on the streets, particularly after nightly synagogue services, because crowds tended to be targets and to respond in kind to attacks. He said that some 20 JDL members came to the area last night but left after being asked to do so by Inspector Sullivan, chief of the Tactical Police and by local Jewish leaders.

NEXT STORY