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Crown Heights Calm After Grand Jury Decides Not to Indict Hasidic Driver

Crown Heights remained quiet after a Brooklyn grand jury decided last week not to indict Yosef Lifsh, the Hasidic driver of a car that struck two black children, killing one of them, in an Aug. 19 accident that sparked four days of rioting.

Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes called on the residents of Crown Heights “to refrain from senseless violence.”

Black leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and Colin Moore, a New York City Council member and lawyer, heeded his call, at least for the moment. Moore is representing the family of Gavin Cato, the 7-year-old child who was killed in the accident.

But the Lubavitch community was uneasy as the High Holy Days began.

“We just hope that from now on, everything will be peaceful and that the streets of Crown Heights will be returned to the people,” said Lubavitch spokesman Rabbi Shmuel Butman.

“We are encouraged by the decision of the grand jury. It proves that the system can work, and that it can stand up to hatred, racism and terrorism.

“But there should have been no grand jury from the start,” he said. “In none of the other 21 cases of vehicular accidents that resulted in death in Brooklyn in the last 12 months has a grand jury been empaneled.”

Lifsh, who waived immunity to testify to the grand jury, has left New York to return to his home in Israel, Butman said.

Lifsh was one of 30 witnesses who testified before the grand jury.

There is no news yet on legal action being planned by the Lubavitch community against the city, or against those who murdered Yankel Rosenbaum, the Australian student stabbed to death by a gang of rioting black youths on the night Gavin Cato died.

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