NEW YORK (Sep. 25)
The peace of the first day of Succot last Thursday, was marred in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, home of the Lubavitch movement, when a scuffle broke out reportedly caused by efforts of police to place a fields in a squad car for allegedly throwing a stone at a bus passing in front of the Lubavitch synagogue.
In the melee which erupted when Levi Weingarten, 27, of Crown Heights, the alleged stone thrower, refused to enter the squad car because Jewish law prohibits riding on the holiday, at least nine policemen were slightly injured and four Hasidim arrested.
Several hundred Hasidim marched on the precinct station house to protest the arrests. One woman police officer was removed on a stretcher with her neck in a brace after she was reportedly punched in the face.
After the rock was thrown, the woman bus driver stopped her bus and emerged to inspect the damage, reportedly a broken sideview mirror. She became involved in a shouting match with several Hasidim who had left the synagogue after Succot services. Two of the 25 police officers on duty approached the crowd and a bus passenger pointed to Weingarten as the stone thrower.
ACCOUNTS BY WITNESSES
According to witnesses Weingarten threw the stone because the bus allegedly brushed his pregnant wife as the two walked outside the synagogue. One witness said Weingarten offered to walk to the stationhouse for booking but police insisted he enter the squad car. At that point some 300 other Hasidic worshippers attacked the police officers.
Those arrested, in addition to Weingarten, were Eric Jacobs, 25, Moshe Rubashkin, 25, and Israel Shimtov, 43. Weingarten was charged with malicious assault and the others with simple assault. A spokesman at the 71st Precinct said all four had been released to appear September 29 in Brooklyn criminal court to face the charges.
Some witnesses said that, while no civilians appeared to have been hurt in the melee, police swung their night sticks. It was reported that the incident is being reviewed by the Civilian Camplaint Review Board.