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Hasidic Group Outraged by Koch’s Move to End Police Protection at Headquarters of Lubavitch Movement

A spokesman for the Lubavitch movement said today that the Hasidic group was “outraged” by the decision of Mayor Edward Koch to end round-the-clock police protection for the group’s world headquarters and its rebbe in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

Koch instructed Police Commissioner Robert McGuire to end the practice, started in 1966, which in effect gave the locations the same status as a foreign embassy, at an estimated cost of $4 million to the city. Koch reportedly believes it has been overdone. The mayor’s office said police can guard both buildings with routine patrols.

McGuire directed the commander of the Brooklyn south area, Assistant Chief Milton Schwartz, to cancel the two radio patrol cars from their standing assignments at the headquarters and at the home of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson. But the order was made conditional on development of an alternative plan of protection with routine patrols. The Lubavitch spokesman said that the movement’s headquarters was receiving telephone calls “from all over the world” to protest Koch’s move and that the action might have “international ramifications.”

New York City Councilman Theodore Silverman, whose district includes Crown Heights, called the removal order “unconscionable,” partly because it came “at a time when responsible leaders of both the Black community and the Jewish community are meeting to discuss the problems of Crown Heights in a rational manner.” He said he would seek to have the order cancelled and, if the protection was removed, that he would work to have it restored.

Silberman said the order indicated that the Koch administration did not “fully understand” what 770 Eastern Parkway, the site of the Lubavitch world headquarters, “truly is,” the “seat of an international movement of the Jewish faith.” He said the headquarters receives as visitors heads of state of many different nations, citing recent visits by Premier Menachem Begin and the Prime Minister of Ireland. Silverman said that as far as he was concerned, “the police protection cannot be removed, must not be removed and will not be removed.”

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