Jewish leaders joined black clergy Wednesday to speak out against the newly formed armed citizens patrol (reported HERE on YW) were launched after the son of Rabbi Daniel Greer was attacked. Two days after the gun-carrying Edgewood Park Defense Patrol was announced the idea continued to create controversy.
Outside the Whalley Avenue police substation, the Rev. Donald Morris, of the Christian Community Commission Inc., gathered with about 15 other black clergymen and activists to denounce it as divisive and dangerous.
“We realize that this is a small segment of our community that has decided that they want to go astray and bring about their own justice. But we will not have it,” Morris said.
Hoping to avoid a Jewish-black divide, Sydney Perry, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, based in Woodbridge, and Rabbi David Avigdor stood with the black clergy against the armed patrols.
Eliezer Greer said the statements Wednesday were nothing more than a diversion. The citizen patrol has been extremely well received in the neighborhood, he said, and includes all races and religions .
He called the ADL and Jewish Federation “carpetbaggers.”
The Edgewood group has called for the ouster of police Chief Francisco Ortiz Jr., asserting the department has abandoned community policing under his leadership, but Ortiz said his department would continue to work with the Greers.
Pastor Todd Foster of Church on the Rock believes the patrols are heading down a treacherous path. “All it would take is one overzealous, untrained self-proclaimed vigilante to shoot an innocent person,” he said, and the whole city would “explode like a powder keg.”
At the Edgewood group’s invitation, Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, an unarmed citizen patrol founded in the 1970s in New York City, plans to come to New Haven to meet with the group today.
The Greers have lived in the diverse Edgewood neighborhood for decades and through nonprofit corporations have bought and fixed up about 40 houses. They run an Orthodox Jewish school at 765 Elm St.
(Article appeared in today’s New Haven Register)