By COLlive reporters
Chassidic Jews and African Americans united Friday afternoon as they lined the street of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood to greet President Barack Obama.
Police helicopters were swarming the sky and the streets –Empire Boulevard, Kingston Avenue and Eastern Parkway– were blocked off with barricades in what the NYPD is calling a “frozen zone.”
Stores along the route closed early and thousands took to the streets in anticipation for what is the second presidential drive-through in the neighborhood (the first was President Bill Clinton on Eastern Parkway).
Cheers were heard as the motorcade drove up Kingston Avenue. Although the the black Cadillac sped by, there was no doubt that the signs calling for reversing the injustice done to a former kosher meatplant manager has caught Obama’s attention.
The initiative, which began as a suggestion by commentators on COLlive, has grown into a community-wide effort with young and old holding signs calling on the President to either pardon Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin or investigate the case.
“We want justice,” high school girls chanted in support of Rubashkin, a father of ten who was harshly sentenced for 27 years for bank fraud.
The talk of the crowd was a tweet attributed to the White House Twitter handle: “The president is humbled by his warm greeting in Crown Heights. The “Long Live the King” signs were touching!”
Its origin was Chabad comedian Mendy Pellin, formerly of Crown Heights, who joked about the signage often seen in the neighborhood in reference to “Messiah the king.”
King or not, Obama came to deliver a political speech from the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) on Albany Avenue tying education with economic growth (see related article).