On October 16th, news broke nationally that a young man sleeping in a community center in the Crown Heights section of New York City was awakened by police and subsequently abused for almost five minutes for not complying with the cops’ demands that he submit to arrest. The man repeatedly told the police he was allowed to be at the community center and had the permission of the center’s director, which one would think the cops would have notified to confirm and at least waited until the director came to the center to confirm. But instead the cops acted on what appears to have been an anonymous ‘tip’ that someone was sleeping at the center without authority, thus trespassing.
How many times have people called cops asking for action on a particular issue only to have them say that they can’t act on ‘anonymous tips’, which on the whole seem to protect our rights and keep revenge seekers and busy-bodies from driving the cops all over on trivial, meaningless errands. Its still unclear why the cops felt that whoever called in had enough weight and authority for them to act by not only entering the center in the middle of the night, but to consider that person’s word of more value than a live individual or the community director, so much more weight that violating this individual’s right to safety and health was of secondary importance?
In the story as reported in Raw Story, you can see the senseless beat-down that this young man had to endure by these thugs in uniform. Further down is the Crown Heights community coming forward to demand justice. I’m heartened to see the Jewish community coming together with the African-American community on this and I hope this is a trend we will see more of; police brutality is an issue that effects us all and we all need to be equally concerned and dilligent in calling out instances of its occurance. Far too often brutality in the African American community is over looked, despite overwhelming evidence. Let’s hope that will become more and more a feature of the past.
UPDATE: Charges have been dropped
From New York Daily News:
Brooklyn prosecutors have dropped all charges against a Jewish man videotaped getting pummeled by two cops at a Crown Heights synagogue.
Ehud Halevy, 21, was sleeping in the back room of the ALIYA youth center on East New York Ave. Oct. 8 when he was confronted by two police officers. After an argument about evacuating the premises — which the shirtless man refused to do — he was punched repeatedly by Officer Luis Vega.
A tape depicting the beatdown has gone viral and elicited angry responses from the Jewish community and elected officials, with many calling for the cops to be fired.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly had called the video “disturbing.”
“We believe the police fabricated the police report that they submitted and have failed to publicly acknowledge what really happened that night,” said ALIYA director Moishe Feiglin. He said Halevy was there with permission.
“After review of all available evidence, I have decided to dismiss the charges against Ehud Halevy,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced Monday afternoon.
Halevy was facing up to seven years in prison for the assault rap. He was also charged with resisting arrest, trespass, harassment and marijuana possessions.
The DA’s decision means the case is now closed.
A petition on change.com asking Hynes to drop the charges garnered nearly 90,000 signatures.
“Justice was done here,” said Halevy’s lawyer Norman Siegel. “There was no legal basis for the criminal charges and the dramatic video was extremely helpful.”
He said his client “was very pleased.”
The charges will be officially dismissed Wednesday.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky as to have a whole unified community come together and put up such an immediate fuss that embarrasses the local department so much they can’t move fast to put the ‘incident’ out of public view. Most victims of police brutality aren’t so lucky, often members of communities that the public has been trained to see as inhuman and in need of constant ‘correction’.
Even though Halevy and his attorney may be pleased with the outcome, nowhere in the Daily News story is any mention of punishment of the cops who obviously went way over board. Some disciplinary action seems called for at the very least. It is disturbing that police officers who demonstrated an obvious lack of judgment and restraint still possess the power to restrain individuals without question and with deadly force.
It is distressing to say the least when a party that suffers under the weight of institutional wrong doing backs off when their personal wrong gets set right. They forget is seems that the rest of the community needs them and their story to push for broad improvements in the institution that wronged them. Dismissing the charges only amounts to an effort to move the stain out of the public view as soon as possible.