By COLlive reporter
Thousands of police officers were stationed around the entire Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn on Shabbos, as a pro-Palestinian protest marched nearby.
Residents had been worried about the proximity of the ‘Flood Brooklyn for Palestine’ march, scheduled for Shabbos afternoon at 3:00 PM at the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway, near the heavily Orthodox Jewish Crown Heights neighborhood.
Reports estimated that thousands of protesters marched in the protest, which headed towards downtown Brooklyn, later shutting down part of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Crown Heights Shmira updated that the march went towards Barclay’s Center and the Brooklyn Bridge and there was no violence reported by the Shmira members observing the protest. There were also no unusual incidents reported to or observed by the Shmira Shabbos Patrol units. The protest is currently heading to Union Square Park in Manhattan, they said on Motzei Shabbos.
The protest attracted thousands of protesters holding up signs reading ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Zionism is Terrorism’. Other placards read ‘Biden is funding genocide’ and ‘occupation is a crime.’ Stickers posted on the doors of businesses along the protest route read: ‘Zionist donors and trustees, hands off our universities’, while another said: ‘From the U.S. to Palestine. Abolish the settler state.’
An NYPD source told The New York Post that they expected to have between 1,500 and 1,800 police officers stationed along the route.
In the Crown Heights area near 770, a massive police presence was seen, in every corner of the neighborhood. Hundreds of police officers and police cars were seen up and down Eastern Parkway, as well as throughout the neighborhood. Eastern Parkway was blocked off by barricades, with police officers guarding the barricades as well. Police helicopters flew overhead during the afternoon. The coverage will remain throughout the night, the NYPD said.
“We thank the NYPD for the historic coverage in our neighborhood today,” Devorah Halberstam, Crown Heights activist and NYPD Honorary Commissioner told COLlive.com. “The NYPD really heard our concerns. They listened to our community in a way that I have never seen before. They showed an understanding of what the community’s needs are, understanding the fears in the community, and the threat that could be there,” she said.
In a Zoom meeting with Jewish community leaders on Friday, all the key officials of the New York Police Department assured the community would be properly protected on Shabbos afternoon so that the community can observe Shabbos and attend synagogue fully without fear.
Present on the zoom were Police Commissioner Edward Caban, Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtrey, Chief of Department Jeff Maddrey, Chief of Patrol Chell, Chief of Detectives, Chief of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, and other key police personnel who worked on the plan for Shabbos.
“There will be no repeat of 1991 (referencing the infamous Crown Heights riots),” said Chief Maddrey. Chief Chell laid out a detailed plan for securing the neighborhood, with hundreds of police officers deployed and with safe zones and street closures around the Jewish community. The meeting was organized by Joel Eisdorfer, Senior Advisor to the Mayor, and coordinated by Inspector Richie Taylor, Commanding Officer of Community Affairs for the Police Department.
In addition to Crown Heights Community leaders, Eli Cohen, Chanina Sperlin and Devorah Halberstam, the call included representatives of Flatbush and other major Jewish Communities, Hatzalah leaders, Shmira and Shomrim representatives.
“Today we saw thousands of police officers paying attention to every last detail, putting barricades up where they needed to, and covering the neighborhood like never before,” said Halberstam. “Although there was no credible threat, a threat could present itself at any time. The NYPD were heroes today, absolutely and totally,” she said.
“In particular, the community thanks Commanding Officer of Community Affairs Richie Taylor, because it was him that spoke on behalf of our community in a way that was understood to what was needed, and he was all around Brooklyn and certainly watching and paying such close attention to Crown Heights, making sure everything was covered,” Halberstam said.
“A special thank you to inspector Joe Hayward of the 71st Precinct which covers Crown Heights, whose Police Officers were sent out throughout the neighborhood, and Chief Charles McEvoy of Brooklyn South, who used the entire resources of Brooklyn South to make sure we were covered,” she said.