NEW YORK (Sep. 5)
An official of the Anti Defamation League of B’nai B’rith said today that he was outraged by the inaction of the police department in providing protection for a Suffolk County, Long Island Jewish mother, Mindy Pinsky, who repeatedly reported to police that she and her four children and their rented home in Mastic Beach are targets of anti-Jewish physical attacks, and have been for weeks, including a fire-bombing that destroyed the family car.
Melvin Cooperman, ADL director for Nassau and Suffolk Counties also told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview from his East Meadow office that anti-Semitic and anti-Black harassment has been constant in both counties during the six years he has been ADL director and that he has evidence of three neo-Nazi groups operating in and around Nassau County, and that the Ku Klux Klan was increasingly active.
He said he had been pressing government and police officials in the two counties for years to stop treating the incidents as “boyish pranks” and to create effective police programs to track down and arrest the perpetrators. He said he had received a call this morning from Suffolk. County Executive John Klein and that Ktein after being informed of the harassment of Mrs. Pinsky and her children, said he would set up a meeting “shortly” between Cooperman and county police commissioner Donald Dilworth.
REPORTS BEING TERRORIZED
The harassment of Mrs. Pinsky and her two sons and two daughters was brought to the attention of the JTA by Brett Becker, the new national director of the Jewish Defense League. Becker said Mrs. Pinsky knew a local Jew, who Becker called a JDL supporter, who called the JDL office in New York City to report on the harassment. While there are substantial concentrations of Jews in the two Long Island counties, Mrs. Pinsky lives in an area of Mastic Beach in which the Pinskys are the only Jewish residents.
Becker said he had been called last Sunday by Mrs. Pinsky who said the police were not protecting the family. She said she and her children were being “terrorized” and that bricks were regularly thrown through the windows of the rented home Becker told the JTA the Pinskys had decided to leave the area and are moving out at the end of the week. Becker declined to say where the Pinskys are moving, “to protect the family,” but apparently they are remaining in Suffolk County. Cooperman said that also was his understanding.
Becker said he had sent three JDL members to be with the family last Sunday night and that during that night, three bricks were thrown through windows of the house. He said the front door has big holes made by a would-be intruder who tried to break in with a hatchet.
Becker said the JDL hired a guard for $50 who patrolled the house Monday night but said it was beyond the resources of the New York JDL office to hire guards on a regular basis. He told the JTA today that three JDL members went to the Pinsky house last night and that two of them remained through the night. He said he had been told by one of the two JDL members that someone had pointed a gun at him from outside but no shooting took place.
Becker said “at least” three JDL members will stay in the Pinsky residence tonight and possibly tomorrow and that the JDL will help the Pinskys move out Friday to the new residence they will occupy Saturday. He said the Pinskys had received death threats by telephone and letter and that one son, 14, and one daughter, 15, had been “beaten up” by “local punks.” The son was hospitalized briefly, Becker said he had been told. Becker said he had called Cooperman who promised him a comprehensive investigation and action on the plight of the Pinskys.
POLICE URGED TO ACT
Cooperman said that, after he talked to Becker, he called the Pinsky home and spoke to the older daughter, Michelle Mrs. Pinsky was not available because she has a job After talking to Michelle, Cooperman said, he made a series of calls to various county officials to initiate action and to provide protection for the Pinsky family.
The ADL official said he had called Hank Johnston of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission, asking him to investigate the Pinsky harassment and to check the lack of thoroughness of the reaction of the police in the local Fifth Precinct. He said he also called Arthur Bergman, deputy to County Executive Klein, asking him to visit the Pinsky family and to discuss the Pinsky and other such incidents with police.
Cooperman said he was following up each telephone call with a letter, asking for a “close watch” on police procedures in such cases. He told the JTA that he felt that police attention to such incidents was ineffective. He cited as an example his discovery that six neighbors saw the firebombing destruction of the Pinsky car and that not one of them had been called in by local police for questioning as eyewitnesses. Cooperman also confirmed a report by Becker that the sign on the Mastic Beach Hebrew Center had been defaced and that its bulletin board had been smashed recently.
The ADL official said that, in response to his repeated earlier warnings, extra police surveillance had been provided during the past three years for between 120 to 140 synagogues in the two counties for the High Holy Days. He also disclosed that a Jewish family in East Islip had sold their home a few years ago and fled to another location when the anti-Semitic harassment became unbearable.
Cooperman said he had appeared, on invitation, at a meeting of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors on Aug. 27 and read a prepared statement in which he asserted that in recent months there had been a variety of acts of terrorism–cross burnings and swastika smearings–in many communities, including Valley Stream, Port Washington, Woodmere, Uniondale and Long Beach.
He said he told the supervisors these were not isolated or unusual incidents but rather “a sad fact of life” on Long Island. He criticized the persistent official attitude of dismissing the incidents as “youthful pranks,” asserting they revealed the “tip of an iceberg” of silent support of such bigotry in the general population. He told the supervisors the “immediate problem” was that of preventing further acts by making apprehension of the perpetrators a matter of urgency. Cooperman also proposed establishing a special unit in the Nassau County Police Department, with funds from the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Act and close police department relations with the federal Justice Bureau Civil Rights Division and the New York State Attorney General.