Suspect Arrested in Murder of Rabbi
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Suspect Arrested in Murder of Rabbi

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The arrest of a suspect in the Killing of an elderly Hassidic rabbi and an incident at a pre-trial Hearing of two Hassidim in the assault last year against a Black youth dramatized last Friday’s racial tensions between Blacks and Hassidim in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, center of the Lubavitch movement.

Police reported the arrest Friday of Carl Miller, 19, on charges of the murder an Oct.25 of Rabbi David Okunov, 68, a recent immigrant from the Soviet Union, who was murdered on his way to synagogue services. Okunov was shot in the head. His assailant stole a small case containing his prayer shawl and prayer book.

A police spokesman said Miller used the name Melhar as a member of a group called Five Percenters; a group of young Blacks, whose group name reportedly reflected a belief that only five percent of Black people resist “exploitation” by whites and that they are among the five percent.

The pre-trial hearing was held in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn for Lewis Brennar, 25, and Jonathan Hackner,22, charged with taking part in the beating of Victor Rhodes in June 1978 Rhodes, then 16, was in a partial coma for nearly two months before he recovered. The defendants, both Lubavitcher Hassidim, denied having taken part in the attack. They were arrested soon after a group of 30 to 50 Hassidim allegedly at tacked Rhodes.


At the pre-trial hearing, some 30 Blacks, charging that 10 Hassidim were being given preference in admission to the courtroom, began shouting protests. Judge Elliot Golden explained that no preference was being given to the Hassidim and the Black protests ended.

Crown Heights Black leaders charged the two Hassidim were part of a vigilante patrol which had beaten Black men in the neighborhood who refused to submit to unofficial identification checks. Lubavitch leaders said that the accused Hassidim were yeshiva students returning home from a wedding party who had “overreacted” to taunts by Rhodes who, they charged, snatched a skullcap from the head of one of the Hassidim.

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