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First Report: Councilman Greenfield Calls For Suspension Of Cops Who Forced Orthodox Jew To Violate Shabbos

5:00PM EST: Brooklyn – Councilman David G. Greenfield is calling for the immediate suspension of two New York City Police Officers who threatened to arrest an Orthodox Jew for jaywalking Friday night in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn -following an exclusive article by

The resident of Midwood was walking home from synagogue on Friday night, wearing the traditional black hat and jacket worn by observant Jews, when he admittedly jaywalked across the street. While jaywalking, he was stopped by two police officers from the 61st Precinct who demanded his identification in order to issue him a summons.

The man was happy to give his name and address to the police officers, but he had no identification at the time.  The man was not carrying his driver’s license because observant Jews do not drive, and are also prohibited by Jewish law from carrying items, on the Sabbath.  The young man asked the officers if they would walk him to his home down the block where he would then provide the officers with his driver’s license. The officers refused and threatened to arrest him for jaywalking. The young man pleaded with the officers, but to no avail. Under threat of arrest, they forced the young man to violate Jewish law by writing his name and address down and then issued him a summons.

“Our constitution guarantees us the right to practice our religion without fear of persecution,” Councilman Greenfield proclaimed. “Are there no major crimes occurring in this city that these two officers can spend their evenings ticketing jaywalkers in residential neighborhoods?  Why couldn’t these officers simply have escorted this religious person to his home?  There was no reason to force this observant Jew to transgress the Sabbath by forcing him to write when the officers knew that they were going to write down his information anyway to hand him a summons.”

Greenfield is demanding a full-scale investigation by the NYPD and the immediate suspension of the officers involved in this incident. “Nobody is a bigger fan of the NYPD than me. These brave men and women keep our city safe every single day. However, among a 34,500 person police force there are bound to be a handful who have no regard for the citizens of this city. When we encounter these few officers, they must be removed immediately.”

(YWN Desk – NYC)

28 Responses

  1. The PBA will defend the cop to the hilt and prevent anything more than a slap on the wrist — and in all likelihood not even a slap on the wrist.

  2. 1. It’s not a first amendment issue since Freedom of Religion was a factor. It’s an issue of overt discrimination.

    2. The solution is to demand the resignation of the Mayor, or alternatively, that he apologizes and implements a program of training police to avoid the problem.

    3. Since people like Mr. Greenfield are dyed-in-blue Democrats, they won’t make a serious issue of it since that would alienate their fellow liberals.

  3. It’s sad but the Yid should have rather let the cops arrest him. There was little justification for his being mehallel Shabbos.

  4. Any cop in this district needs to know the ins and outs of the community. If they are unsure they can call into the precinct to find out if what the “suspect” is saying is “suspect” or true. What these cops did was inexcusable and they should be held accountable. At the very least they should be forced to give a public apology to the suspect and his community.

  5. How many other citizens have been discriminated against in this way? I think that should be looked into. Perhaps its mostly alleged jaywalking on Friday nights in neighborhoods known to have populations of observant Jews, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get data worthy of investigation, and not just limited to these officers.

  6. What about the fact that he jay-walked. Should the NYPD forget about their jobs because it is shabbos. The officer may have gone overboard but does the defendant realize he did something wrong at all.

    Anyway, how is the officer supposed to make sure that the information he was given is accurate. Should he have spent the half hour to follow the defendant home, help the defendant get out his wallet, run his license, and then issue the citation by placing it on the kitchen table.

  7. If we would worry as much about yenem’s gashmiyus as we do about their ruchniyus, we’d be a lot better off!

    Also, I don’t think that TAKIR, The Association of Knowledgable Internet Rabbis, should be deciding if this Yid was C”V mechalel Shabbos. Leave it between him, his Rov, and The RSH”O.

  8. To #10:
    No one ever said that he denied being guilty. He offered that they follow him home, which was but a few minutes away. If the officers were truly serious about the jaywalking, and knowing that the section in Bklyn. in which they are to uphold and maintain, is predominantly Jewish, they should have been willing to follow him home and taken the time to do the summons properly. The mere fact that they did not wish to do this clearly shows that they just wanted to cause trouble. I grew up in Bklyn. and I’m sure that it’s worse now than when I was growing up. In my day if the cops were serious, they would follow the person home. I’m assuming that based on your username that you’re orthodox. Do you realize how insane you sound? Again, if the officers sincerely wanted to hold him accountable they should have taken the time to follow him home and follow the procedure. It’s pretty clear that they were just looking for trouble.
    Note: This is the first time that I’ve ever written a comment. I truly believe that you people don’t spend enough time doing what you are really supposed to. The comments that some of you people write are utterly ridiculous. But #10 I just couldn’t let pass without responding.

  9. Am I missing something here? Why did he have to write anything down? If they didn’t trust that he would TELL them his correct name, then he could just as well WRITTEN a wrong name!!!!

  10. If he was walking home from shul, why not return to shul – with the cops! – and ask his rabbi/rev/rebbi what to do! Then, if the cops refused this approach, THEY should locked up. (Just kidding, of course.)
    And, to #10: yes, if these cops are so ardent about enforcing the law, they should dedicate their time to going through proper procedures, within the parameters of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (remember that?). Of course, there are questions abut allowing the police into your home without probable cause, etc., etc., but if the TSA can assault you for the “crime” of wanting to fly on a commercial airplane, what is the limit?

  11. the gentlemas house was around the corner! if the officer was willing to take the time to arrest the man he cudve saved himself abt 40 min walking him around the corner!! these officers acted against all elements of logic!!!

  12. dovid2 no one asked you your opinion ! and you can`t judge someone until your in their shoes!!!!! what would u have done if you couldve been arrested ???? its not that simple!!!!! very easy for you to say it didnt happen to you!!

  13. Sorry, Princess, but I agree with Dovid2. Better be arrested & stand up for our faith than cave into anti-semitism. What would the cops have done? Hung him? They’d have called a sergeant who would have been afraid of the backlash. And do you mean to tell me there wasn’t one other Yid walking by to come to his aid? No one could have found a Shomrim member? A Rav to speak to the cops?

    We just commemorated Yud Tes Kislev, when the Bal HaTanya was released from jail. That was on Friday…rather ironic, wouldn’t you say, that a couple of hundred years later, this time here in the good old US of A, we Jews are still being harassed by the authorities. Poster #8: succinct yet correct.

  14. you guys are all turning this into a bigger story than it is..
    the only thing the NON Jewish cop is guilty of is not knowing jewish law…
    you are all forgetting – eventhough NY has alot of jews not every gentile cop knows halacha!
    how is a non jewish cop supposed to know one cant write on shabbos??? calling for his suspension or firing is wrong…the only thing possibly the cops patrolling the precincts with a heavy jew population should learn is jewish cutoms and sensitivity to restrictions on the sabath and holidays etc

  15. 1) Don’t jaywalk, especially at night. It’s illegal for a reason.
    2) Being stopped by a cop is not defacto antisemitism: we are not above the law.
    3) The cops have a good reason for not going to the home or shul: they would have put themselves into a situation with more people, even a crowd, and had more difficulties controlling the situation.

    4) There is no reason (and certainly not in the Patrol Guide) for a cop to not accept the word of someone but then force the person to write the information.
    5) Forcing a Jew to write on Shabbos was inexcusable: it made no sense legally or procedurally.
    6) Cops have room for discretion and should use common sense: that apparently did not happen in this case [and I’m not saying the cops should not enforce jay walking regulations: I’ve seen too many pedestrians injured and killed to think jay walking is not a problem].

    7) Our response needs to be measured. We are NOT in Tzarist Russia but neither are we in our own land. Making this a huge political issue only gives fodder to the antisemitic feelings of some cops who think that our community (1) feels above the law and (2) has such political power that we actually are above the law.
    Yes, we need to protect our rights. But we need to exercise some common sense in dealing with two cops who allegedly didn’t use their own common sense. Calling for their immediate termination is overkill.

  16. please lets have the names of the police officers.
    1. to see if they have a history of acting this way.
    2. to be aware when they approach you.
    3. to let them know, that we citizens WILL defend our rights

  17. Love all the Monday-morning quarterback posaiks.
    Not so easy to posken when you’re on the spot with 2 cops intimidating you.

  18. These cops should be re-assigned to East New York or Bed-Stuy where their tough guy attitude is more suitable for a tougher kind of perp.
    They have to learn there is a difference in attitude they should demonstrate when the “perp” is a well-dressed mild-mannered jaywalker and when the “perp” is an armed robber.

  19. Do you think they would have let him WALK to the station to be arrested? He would have been forced to get in the car. (After all, the cops did not let him walk the half-block to his home to show his ID) I imagine he wrote with a shinui, hoping that it would be better than dirving in a car.

    Also, #18, no one expects a cop to be familiar with all hilchos Shabbos but they should know enough that there are rules that they are not familiar with, and when someone who seems to be cooperating, tells them a rule, there is no reason not to work with the person.

  20. The reality is Rabbi Emert who I know personally is the most simple and sincere person.Anyone has a right to say what they want and to blog as they please , but in Brooklyn,NY USA 2010,police officers know that Jews do not write or drive on Shabbos. Just three weeks ago was the Kings Highway Shabbos Parade and the 61st PCT was sent out to help out and block traffic during the walk, so they do know quite well that we do not drive or write our name, etc on the Sabbath. Incidentally a boy from the Mirrer Yeshiva last Wednesday was mugged and was told by the Police to come down on Saturday to fill out a police report which Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg when asked what to do, forbid him to do so as h may not violate Shabbos and it is very possible that if we do nothing about this Anti Semitic Acts by the Police Department Employees the future can be bleak.I was old that Police Chief Fox is quite upset and is looking into the matter that happened Friday night wth Rabbi Emert. May he get to the bottom of this and make sure that the whole 61st Precinct know that we are not trying to take advantage of any type of situation as we in general “LAW ABIDING CITIZENS”, but we must neverhave to fear that our Shabbos can be violated again.

  21. I wonder if the officers made rather stupid mistakes out of ignorance – that would be a lot less dramatic than all of the antisemitism allegations and the clarion calls for a mayoral resignation and the like. I think alot of you get your kicks from this sort of story, blowing them up into major incidents without asking even the most elementry of questions. I’d bet my black hat that you think you know all of the answers.

  22. best bubby i dont agree at all because in this day and age you never know what a polica can do to someone!!! In germany the germans woulve tortured or killed jews if they didnt write and even though bh we are not in germany you never know how anti semetic someone is!! also when a person is so scared they can`t think logically!!

  23. If he feels that his life will (or might be) in danger if he is put in jail, and he actually thinks that refusing to sign will (or might) land him in jail, then it’s muttar to be mechallel Shabbos.

    If not, then it’s assur even with a shinui.

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