A few nights ago, a friend and I chased a burglar around Crown Heights, we had Shomrim on his case, but at the last second he ran onto “base” where we wouldn’t be safe to follow him.
That “base” being a building in the heart of Crown Heights where, as the Shomrim put it: “If we walk in, it could end a lot worse than a burglary. We don’t need dead heroes”. This isn’t a crazy story, far from it. This has become regular life in crown heights, as the list of crimes and threats that our community has to put up with only gets worse.
I’m not a frantic person, and I’m not trying to frighten parents or scare anybody. I don’t think fear is the correct response, and I don’t think this is what will make our community safer or stronger.
All I’m saying is that we have to acknowledge the issue and bring it center stage, and that is: We live in a community where a significant number of our neighbors feel comfortable harassing us, stealing from us, attacking us, and worst of all, robbing us of our basic sense of security.
They aren’t going to stop anytime soon unless something is done about it. I don’t care if the reason is poverty, education, media, or Anti-Semitism. We need to fix our security situation before the root causes are fixed. We need action and we demand it.
The sense of personal safety is what every healthy community needs, and that doesn’t only mean that we expect to be able to walk down the street without actually getting hurt- it means that we expect to feel safe, and allow our children to walk to school or a friend’s house without being afraid. This is OUR community, there is no reason we should be feeling threatened in our own home. Something must be done!
I was going to include a dark and scary prognosis of the future if we don’t do something about the situation now, but I chose to leave it out of this letter because I don’t think as Chassidim, this is the approach we are meant to take.
At the same time, to sit back and let things happen to us, to not stand up for our and our families’ safety, to continue scrolling when we hear of another case of theft, harassment, or Cha”v an attack, is definitely not the correct Jewish approach.
We have local activists and city activists, we have council people, assembly people, congress people, mayors and borough presidents, and we still got nowhere. On the contrary, things are getting worse. The homeless problem, gang violence, Anti-Semitic harassment and attacks, and still nothing. Our hands are tied.
We love our volunteers and we thank our cops, but we still have a huge issue. I don’t know if it’s an overload on the justice system or a change of policy, it may also be the demonization of cops and new restrictions, but bottom line, as a Crown Heights resident, I feel there is a threat to my safety that no one is taking care of! I really hope that as a community we can reverse this problem, but in the meantime, all I can do is let out my desperation in this frustrated letter.
I’m tired of kvetching, and “tsk tsk”ing every time I hear news about the shchuna. I’m tired of all the fancy words and inaction, and truthfully I’m hurt and offended by the complete indifference of the very people we fund and elect who look us in the eyes time and time again promising safety and security and fail so miserably to deliver.
I don’t have the answers. All I know is that we do not have the right to stand down or to stay quiet, we owe it to our children and families to fix this problem. I’m looking at our leaders and activists, waiting and demanding that they create the safe Shchuna that we are being denied.