NEW YORK (Jul. 13)
The Crown Heights Jewish Community Council held a press conference today to deny allegations by the Black community that Jewish crime prevention patrols in the neighborhood have been harassing Blacks.
Speaking to reporters at the patrol headquarters in Brooklyn, Rabbi Samuel Fogelman, a member of the executive committee of the Community Council, said that “At no time did any member of the patrol intimidate or attack any member of the Black community. There were incidents in which members of the patrol were forced to defend themselves,” he said. But he denied that patrol members were behaving as vigilantes. He said the patrol existed “to show their physical presence” and to deter crime by reporting it to police.
Last Saturday about 500 Blacks demonstrated outside the local police precinct and marched to the nearby world headquarters of the Lubavitcher Hasidic movement to protest alleged harassment by the Crown Heights Community Patrol and demand that it be disbanded. They handed out flyers with the slogan “Never again. Stop Hasidic attacks on Blacks.”
BLACKS INVITED TO JOIN PATROL
Fogelman said that “a huge segment of sensible Blacks recognized the fallacy of both this hate literature and the demonstrations” last Saturday. He said that “the nominal few hundred Blacks that attended the demonstration on a beautiful Saturday afternoon gave proof to the lack of its support.”
He said that “many Blacks interviewed by the media and many who called in to radio talk shows, stated that they saw no reason for this Black uprising. They realized that the Jews in Crown Heights were in effect maintaining their own community and that the citizens patrol protected them no less than the Hasidim.”
In response to questions, Fogelman said, “We have invited Blacks to join the patrol and we expect them to join. They will be treated as equal members of the patrol.”
Meanwhile, Marian B. Logan, chairperson of the New York City Human Rights Commission, said, in a statement released today, that the Commission will make an effort to help reduce tensions in Crown Heights. She said “The Commission will make itself available to the community’s Black and Hasidic leadership to assist them in developing a solution to their common problems.