NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is calling on Vermont Governor Phil Scott to investigate the civil rights violations of a Hassidic family who was traveling through Vermont. Members of a family of Boro Park were terrorized by a State Trooper in what appears to be a bias incident.
A 60-year-old Hassidic rabbi who resides in Brooklyn and his wife, a Brooklyn school principal, were traveling with their two children on Monday evening, August 7, when they were pulled over by a State Trooper. The officer pointed a gun at family members, including a minor, and proceeded to roughly handcuff each family member in turn. Prior to being cuffed, one family member called 911 to report what was occurring so other police officers soon arrived.
After 20 minutes of being held, the officer changed his mind, apparently, and released the family, stating that he needed to respond to another, more urgent call. The rabbi was issued a summons for eluding a police officer.
The family called the State Police the next day to lodge a complaint. They spoke with Sergeant Lyle Becker who told them the incident occurred because the trooper thought the rabbi was drunk and had been weaving between lanes, yet no breathalyzer test was administered at the scene. The Sergeant also told the family that they had been speeding, yet no speeding ticket was issued.
“My constituents’ dress made it clear that they were Hassidic Jews, a sight that may be uncommon in Vermont but one that is hardly a crime,” said Hikind. “While it would be difficult to mistake the family as people who might pose a danger to police officers, they were subjected to having guns pointed at them, being handcuffed, terrorized and humiliated. This entire incident has left this family traumatized and fearful of travel. I am horrified by the treatment my constituents were subjected to and deeply troubled that it may have been a bias incident prompted by their mode of dress. I am appalled that any family would be treated like this when it is clearly apparent they were not even suspected of criminal activity. I am demanding an immediate investigation into the violation of my constituents’ civil rights.”