NEW YORK (Dec. 8)
Four Lubavitcher Hasidim were indicted yesterday on riot and assault charges stemming from a clash with police on the first day of Succot and a Lubavitch spokesman rejected the charges and said the movement would file counterclaims of police brutality.
The indictments of Eric Jacobs, 25, Moishe Rubashkin, 25, Israel Shimtov, 43, and Levi Weingarten, 27, were announced by Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman, who said “assaults on police officers cannot be condoned and will not be tolerated.”
Police officials reported statements by at least seven policemen that they had been injured in the incident on September 22 in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, site of the world headquarters of the Hasidic movement.
The Lubavitch spokesman, responding to announcement of the indictments, asserted that a case of “blatant police overreaction and brutality” took place and that the movement would fight this “wrongful action.”
THREE CHARGED WITH 15 COUNTS
According to Holtzman, Jacobs, Rubashkin and Shimtov were charged with 15 counts of second degree assault, seven counts of third-degree assault and one count of rioting. The three also were charged with obstructing governmental administration, a misdemeanor. They are due in Brooklyn Supreme Court next Tuesday for arraignment.
Weingarten was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. A spokesperson for the District Attorney told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that no date had been set for his arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court.
The spokesperson said all four Hasidim had been arrested at the time of the incident, which began with the throwing of a rock at a city bus, and had been released on bench warrants, adding they remain free pending appearance in the two courts.
The city bus allegedly brushed a pregnant woman, reportedly Weingarten’s wife, and the rock was then thrown, touching off a shouting match when the bus driver halted the bus and left it to inspect the damage.
When police on duty near the Lubavitch world headquarters tried to take Weingarten into custody, after a bus passenger pointed to him as the rock thrower, and bring him to the precinct station in a squad car, he refused, declaring Jewish law banned riding on any vehicle on a religious holiday.
One witness said Weingarten offered to walk to the precinct station but police insisted he get into the squad car. At that point, some 300 other Hasidim clashed with the police, in an effort to prevent Weingarten’s being forced to enter the patrol car. The arrests followed.