By COLlive reporter
Photos: Yisrael Belizovski
A unique mix of people gathered Tuesday morning in Crown Heights to respond to a string of apparent bias attacks on Jews over the past two months.
Community leaders, elected and police officials, and principals of Intermediate and High Schools from the Jewish, African American and other segments of the community sat around a kosher breakfast to exchange ideas.
Held at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva on Crown Street, the conversation focused on possibilities to educate local youths on the long-term ramifications of their crimes and the need for better understanding of their Chassidic neighbors.
“It’s sad that in 2013, in our beautiful Brooklyn, we are meeting about this,” said outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, echoing the sentiment of most participants.
Activist Chanina Sperlin, host of the forum and governmental liaison of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, said “it’s important that we should reach practical results for the benefit of the entire community.”
But midway through the meeting, Tessa Alleyne, the principal of Public School 91, began to express frustration. “I’m not hearing a lot of concrete solutions,” she said. “We need concrete solutions. More needs to be done for our kids.”
Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer pledged a citywide program to educate youth and stop the progression “before it becomes the rage that will be front-page headlines one day.”
Sperlin advocated to speak to youngsters about the consequences of their actions. “If they do a crime, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and can go away for 7-8 years,” he said. “Why do kids want to throw away their future?”
Laurie Cumbo, the new City Council Member representing Crown Heights, suggested to make teenagers aware of what transpired in the neighborhood during the 1991 riots against Jews.
Devorah Halberstam of the Jewish Children’s Museum said they have been welcoming public school students for open conversations and dialogue. Michael Johnson, principal of PS 161, related that they have started a “hate crime curriculum” in his school.
There were some practical suggestions.
The most obvious, yet only related by one participant, was the need for an immediate arrest to be made in the case of anti-Semitic attacks, whether or not it is part of a violent game or many isolated incidents.
“People in this community have been attacked,” said State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who grew up in the neighborhood. “I want those people who did the crimes arrested. They committed a crime which could’ve caused serious injury. We need to apprehend the individuals who committed these crimes.”
Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, updated that there’s been a rise in uniformed visibility and that “we are utilizing the resources of the entire police department. Results are what we want. Arrests are what we want. We are out there investigating and pledging to do what we can.”
Markowitz suggested to the police, “you’ve got to get your undercover cops out there. Let them be dressed as Chassidim, the young kids (will strike) and (you will) catch them. History has shown, if this is not caught now and nipped in the bud, it gets worse. I don’t want any stain on Brooklyn.”
Lastly, Community Board 9 Chairman Jacob Goldstein raised an issue he said he’s been promoting for years. “We need cameras on Kingston, Troy and Albany Avenues. I have asked numerous times, it falls on deaf ears. They say ‘No money.’ It’s time the NYPD put cameras in our streets.”
The event concluded with participants agreeing that this event should not be a one-time occurrence, but rather should take place a few times a year, to continue the dialogue. “We need to make quarterly meetings to discuss this and make sure this work continues,” said District 41 Council Member Darlene Mealy.
Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South speaks:
Elected Officials in attendance:
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; Comptroller elect Scott Stringer; Council members Darlene Mealy, David Greenfield, and Mathieu Eugene; Council members elect Laurie Cumbo and Chaim Deutsch, Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
Representatives of the following elected officials were in attendance:
David Lobl for Governor Cuomo; Pinny Ringel for Mayor-Elect Bill Deblasio; District Director Anita Taylor and Eli Slavin – community liaison for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (who was in Washington, DC); Reuven Lipkin for Senator Eric Adams; Sarana Purcell and Shea Halberstam for Assemblyman Karim Camara and Gregorio Mayers and Fred Kreizman from Mayor Bloomberg’s office.
Agencies at the meeting:
State Human Rights, DOE (Superintendent of School District 17 Buffie Simmons, and Principals Michael Johnson PS 161, Tessa Alleyne PS 91, Dr. Shannon Burton PS 61, Andrea Whiteheart, NYPD (Police Commissioner’s Office, Chief Osgood and Commanding Officer of Hate Crimes, Brooklyn South Chief, Commanding Officer 71 Pct, Reps from Community Affairs and 77 Precinct) and Chairmen of Community Board 8 and 9 (both cover Crown Heights) Jacob Goldstein.
Other notable attendees:
JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council of NY) David Pollock and Bob Kaplan; Medgar Evers College Vice President Dr. John Fasteau, plus head of security and Director of Government Relations; Church Pastors — Pastor Gil Monrose, Taharka Robinson, Reverend Norman and others; Precinct Council Presidents, James Caldwell and Colin Kohn; Richard Green from the Crown Heights Youth Collective; Devorah Halberstam from the Jewish Children’s Museum; Crown Heights Jewish Community Council reps.
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