By Tamar Adelstein for COLlive
I recently attended a Town Hall meeting in Crown Heights with Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and Mark Molinari, Commanding officer of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. I asked what efforts they were taking to monitor and stop hate-mongers like Al Sharpton and Ilhan Omar who have huge stores of funds, resources and unlimited access to media, from spreading their anti-Semitic incitement against the Jewish community.
I remarked that, Thank G-d, social media wasn’t around at the time of the 1991 Crown Heights Pogrom; Sharpton’s incitement could have caused even more loss of life, injuries and property damage; no doubt the numbers of rioters who rampaged through our neighborhood would have been even greater had cell phones been around.
Mr. Molinari responded by saying “hate speech is protected under the Constitution.” He also said his office only works after a crime has been committed and that it’s the FBI that investigates hate mongers. How reassuring.
In the meantime, Medgar Evers College plans to bestow an honorary doctorate on Sharpton this coming June 5th for his “unwavering commitment to racial, educational and socioeconomic equity” during commencement ceremonies to be held at the Barkley Center.
Indeed, Sharpton’s unwavering anti-Semitism and racism after the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum possibly led to the deaths of others as well. Sharpton’s commitment to “No Peace, No Justice” the week of August 19, 1991 also traumatized many of our community’s children whether they were hiding in fear and confusion at home or suddenly thrust into scenes of utter mayhem and danger upon arriving back from overnight camps just as the pogrom was gaining momentum.
In my humble opinion, the pogrom left a subtle damaging effect on the community that has yet to be recognized or resolved; at the time, any concerns about post-trauma were brushed aside (other than by a few self-serving agencies who profited from fundraising on the issue but that’s a story for another time).
On President Street between Utica and Schenectady there lived an elderly Holocaust survivor. During the pogrom, the mob broke into her building and ran through the hallways pounding on doors. This poor woman was all alone and panic-stricken. Terrified that they would soon break in, she sought to escape by jumping outside her window and instead fell tragically to her death. I have unfortunately been unable to find anyone who remembers her name.
My friend went to pick up her young son from the camp bus and was chased in full view of the police. She later miscarried. Judge Frederic Block who presided over the motion victims filed, callously told her to stop complaining since she already had a lot of children and could always have more!
In the weeks after the pogrom, Sharpton repeatedly came back to Crown Heights stirring up trouble and inciting Blacks to continue attacking Jews. With official and police permission, he was permitted to lead a march of wild marauders down my street just before Yom Kippur; it was very, very scary.
Following an incident in 1994 when a thief trying to break into a building behind 770 was caught and held until police arrived, Sharpton took to the airwaves and called on blacks to assemble with their weapons at a church on East New York and Utica and be ready to attack Jews over Shabbos. My group, “Crown Heights Women” filed a petition for an Order of Protection against Sharpton but was turned away. The NYPD 71st Precinct at the time refused to listen to our pleas for protection and instead fearfully set up their own barricades around the station. Only by the advent of a miraculous tri-state storm that knocked out powerlines, trees and most importantly transportation was another pogrom prevented.
Sharpton has never been called to account for his actions. Apologies would be farcical. His “confession” at the Reform Jewish convention that Coretta Scott King chided him after the Crown Heights pogrom falls far short of what she should have done then: Sever all ties with Sharpton, publicly denounce him and express her deepest regret that such evil had been perpetrated by a student of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, the great civil rights leader and true friend of the Jews.
So, what to do? Should write letters to Medgar Evers president Rudy Crew or sign a petition demanding the honor be withdrawn that will most likely go right into the wastebasket?
Should a delegation from the community ask for a meeting with Rudy Crew to voice our feelings and anger at the insensitivity shown us, the school’s neighbors, who were victims of Sharpton’s anti-Semitic violent hatred?
Should we rally together outside Medgar Evers in protest? Will the Media even bother to report on it? Should we call upon our local public officials to pressure Crew to withdraw the award?
Please share your ideas in the comments or you may contact me at [email protected]
Of course, Hashem can always send another blow-out storm preventing Sharpton from attending the commencement too. Let us daven that these evil beasts will soon be held accountable and punished for their crimes.
–Tamar Adelstein is a resident of Crown Heights and is the coordinator of the organization “Crown Heights Women for the Safety and Integrity of Israel”