Confrontation Looms Between Hasidic Jews and Blacks in Crown Heights
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Confrontation Looms Between Hasidic Jews and Blacks in Crown Heights

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A new confrontation loomed today between Hasidic Jews and Blacks in the racially mixed Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. The Blacks insist on the removal of police barricades which limit access on Saturdays to a service road running past the United Lubavitcher Synagogue.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, a spokesman for the Lubavitcher movement, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the Blacks were “trying to prod us into a confrontation.” He said that if anyone tried to remove the barricades without authorization it would be “between them and the police.” He declined to say how members of the Hasidic community would react in such an event.

The block was the scene of a clash last Saturday between several hundred Hasidim and police after two patrolmen attempted to arrest three Hasidic youths who allegedly battered two cars being driven along the block during hours when traffic is restricted. One of the cars was driven by Dr. Rufus Nichols, a Black physician who lives on the block, and the other by a patient of Dr. Nichols. The Hasidim claimed the cars were being driven “recklessly.”

At a press conference, Dr. Nichols and a Black pastor. The Rev. William A. Jones, who is president of the NY chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said they would demand that police remove the barricades. Dr. Nichols’ wife, Janet, who is president of a neighborhood association, said, “The arbitrary traffic restriction instituted at the synagogue must be relieved at once or we will be forced to take the law into our own hands.” Police spokesmen said that there were no plans to remove the barricades.


Rev. Jones, pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church, alleged that the barriers were intended by the Hasidim to force outsiders to conform to Orthodox Jewish law forbidding riding on the Sabbath. Rabbi Krinsky insisted that the barricades, which have been used for the past three years, were intended solely to protect worshippers, particularly children, who congregate outside the synagogue on Saturdays. He said that four children of his community have been struck by cars on the block during the past year.

Rabbi Krinsky told the JTA that only through traffic was barred from the block during Saturday worship hours and that residents were free to come and go. Dr. Nichols contended that as a physician, he and his patients must have free access to the block 24 hours a day.

Howard Scheiner, 34, one of three Hasidic Jews arrested in Saturday’s clash with police, was arraigned Monday at Brooklyn Criminal Court and released on $2500 ball pending a hearing set for July 9. Scheiner was charged with second degree assault, robbery, resisting arrest and other offenses. The police said that 15 officers were injured in the melee which involved some 400 Hasidim, Hasidic spokesmen have accused the police of indiscriminately beating innocent bystanders and said they would file complaints against individual officers who allegedly “acted like Nazis.”

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