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Crown Heights

September 16, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Two

Before I continue with Crown Heights and because we are dealing with Hasidim violence, I want to relate a relevant case in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. On December 1, 2013, Taj Patterson was viciously beaten by members of the Satmar. Read an eyewitness account.

“Jose Guzman, a prosecution witness, testified ‘there was a minimum of 15 Hasidic men holding, kicking, punching, and pulling this young man towards the street. They waved others into the group like ‘tag, you’re it.’ Then, I ran into the crowd.”

The victim, Mr. Patterson, 25, grabbed Mr. Guzman’s leg and said, “Help me.” He probably saved Mr. Patterson’s live. Notice a few things. They attack in droves when the victim is alone. Secondly, and what is most significant, the violent streak seems to be generational,
Consider a brief review of the history.

Going back to December 22, 1976 edition of the New York Post, Latino leaders complained of harassment and assault by the Hasidim: “Innocent Blacks and Hispanics sometimes get caught in the crossfire, Hispanic leaders contend, says Alexis Miranda, president of the new tenants association in Clemente Plaza. If they see any Black or Hispanic in their neighborhood, they might beat him up, try to arrest him.

“On April 9, 1990, 50 Hasidim pulled three men from a car and set the car on fire. There police officers were injured. There were no arrests. It all started over a minor dispute. In 1989, a young man named William Pickney was beaten in Williamsburg by, some say, 100 Satmar Hasidim, similar to the bearing of Victor Rhodes, a 16-year-old Black youth, who was beaten by members of the Lubavitcher Hasidim.

“Frustrated after a series of meetings with the District Attorney and staff, we decided to meet with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, Mr. Andrew Maloney. In two meetings, we implored him to investigate not only the attack on Pickney but also the Satmar community. We tried to persuade him that they were a very powerful group, who were in collusion with the city government and other powerful elements, and that they were using their power in violent, discriminatory, and oppressive ways. I reminded him that in the South, when this was done by hate groups like the KKK, the federal government would intercede. Of course, nothing ever happened.

“Meanwhile, Mr. Pickney will never return to normalcy. His father died of cancer some months later. I am sure his condition exacerbated by the savage attack which left his son unconscious and absent of injustice. No Hasid was ever arrested.”

V. The Hassidim on the School Board

In Crown Heights, two Hassidim sit on the school board. Certainly, it is their right to get elected to a seat in the school board, but if they have no children in the schools, why did they take the seat from parents who do have children in the schools?

VI. Manipulation of Public Funds

On the question of public funding for housing, anti-poverty programs, etc., in 1978, Carol Bellamy, then President of the City Council, did a report on Chevra Machazikei Hashcunah, Inc. They found numerous irregularities. Yet, this report did not bring any major changes. In fact, there were little or no public disclosures of the report. The Hassidim continued business as usual.

VII. Housing
On Crown and Albany Streets, there was a 51-unit housing development which was built with public funds. It was required that such units be allocated according to lottery. Public notice of availability must be placed in two newspapers. Requests for applications must be submitted by interested parties. A date for selection is set and the names of the winners are announced.
In the case of Crown and Albany development, the units were built with double sinks. Should public funds be used to support religious requirements? There are other instances where special treatment is given for their religious requirements.

According to the information I had at that time, announcements were made in the Jewish Press and Newsday (Suffolk County Section). All of this resulted in 90% of the units being allocated to the Hassidim. In a community, 80-90% Black, the system is manipulated so that Blacks get 10% of the units – 2 sinks and all. The stories were riffed of the Hassidim manipulations – to get an advantage. And, across the years, there were accusations of the Hassidim fire-bombing, rent-gauging, and intimidating their tenants, anything to get property close to the synagogue.
Recently, in the Sunday Daily News, on August 21, 2016, there was a two-page spread. Mr. Ron Howard wrote about Crown Heights. His lengthy article, while touching on the history of Crown Heights, does not mention the years of complaints regarding the abovementioned issues and other issues. He does mention the citizens’ complaints of housing skewed in the favor of developers.

… to be continued.

(Originally published in the Daily Challenge on September 16, 2016.)