In the wake of a report (here) that Sholom Emert was issued a summons this past Friday night for jaywalking and asked for identification on his way home from shul , Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) denounced the NYPD for failing to sensitize its officers regarding the traditions and practices of the Orthodox Jewish community.
Although Mr. Emert allegedly told the officers that he did not have ID on him, nor could he write down his contact information because of the prohibition of writing on Shabbos, the officers involved threatened to arrest Mr. Emert if he did not comply. Fearing arrest and possible jail time, Mr. Emert violated his religious beliefs, and wrote down his name and address for the officers.
“It is outrageous that these NYPD officers selected a clearly identifiable Orthodox Jew for a summons on the Sabbath, and forced him to choose between his religious convictions and a jail cell,” said Hikind. “It is clear that these officers had an agenda when they ticketed Mr. Emert on Friday night.”
Hikind is calling on Commissioner Kelly to send a message to these and other like-minded officers that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated, adding, “A thorough investigation into this incident must be launched immediately.”
The following is a statement from Councilman David Greenfield:
Councilman David G. Greenfield is calling for the immediate suspension of two New York City Police Officers who threatened to arrest an Orthodox Jew for jaywalking Friday night in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The resident of Midwood was walking home from synagogue on Friday night, wearing the traditional black hat and jacket worn by observant Jews, when he admittedly jaywalked across the street. While jaywalking, he was stopped by two police officers from the 61st Precinct who demanded his identification in order to issue him a summons.
The man was happy to give his name and address to the police officers, but he had no identification at the time. The man was not carrying his driver’s license because observant Jews do not drive, and are also prohibited by Jewish law from carrying items, on the Sabbath. The young man asked the officers if they would walk him to his home down the block where he would then provide the officers with his driver’s license. The officers refused and threatened to arrest him for jaywalking. The young man pleaded with the officers, but to no avail. Under threat of arrest, they forced the young man to violate Jewish law by writing his name and address down and then issued him a summons.
“Our constitution guarantees us the right to practice our religion without fear of persecution,” Councilman Greenfield proclaimed. “Are there no major crimes occurring in this city that these two officers can spend their evenings ticketing jaywalkers in residential neighborhoods? Why couldn’t these officers simply have escorted this religious person to his home? There was no reason to force this observant Jew to transgress the Sabbath by forcing him to write when the officers knew that they were going to write down his information anyway to hand him a summons.”
Greenfield is demanding a full-scale investigation by the NYPD and the immediate suspension of the officers involved in this incident. “Nobody is a bigger fan of the NYPD than me. These brave men and women keep our city safe every single day. However, among a 34,500 person police force there are bound to be a handful who have no regard for the citizens of this city. When we encounter these few officers, they must be removed immediately.”