Southern Brooklyn

Orthodox Community Outraged At Local Cops


Councilman David G. Greenfield is demanding the immediate suspension of two police officers after an incident on Friday night in which the patrolmen from the 61st Precinct allegedly forced an Orthodox man to violate Jewish law.

According to Yeshiva World News:

[A] 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 a Sephardic Jew representing Midwood, Boro Park and Bensonhurst.

Comment policy


  1. This is just ridiculous. The officers were doing their job, not persecuting him. If there had been a murder or violent crime, you bet they wouldn’t be so up in arms over this if paperwork needed to be filled out. If there is a God, then they’ll be lenient enough to understand and forgive the breaking of the “law” this one time.

  2. There is no legitimate reason why a practicing observant Jew can’t have his identification on his person, such as in a pocket. If they can carry a Tallit, or Prayer Book, which is often the case, they can stick a Drivers Licence in their pocket.

  3. if you are not carrying id you are going to the nearest pct and getting warrant checked and issued a summons. end of story. where was his residential id card or passport? please its not a racial thing, i can name 10 other people this happened to.

  4. actually, the law about not carrying on sabbath does include carrying id (or a key or anything else) in your pocket. JAYWALKING? you must be kidding? No one actually gets tickets for jaywalking. people shouldn’t have to carry id with them when they walk. there’s absolutely no reason the officers couldn’t give him the ticket and write “refused to sign” on their paperwork. On the other hand, if the officers were as ill-informed about the culture as many of the posters here are, they probably just saw the guy as being a smart-assed kid. I doubt they really intended it as religious harassment. The police should have training about the cultures of all the populations in their precincts. And people should not jaywalk on the way to synagogue (or i suppose anywhere else for that matter) if the police are serious about giving tickets.

  5. You don’t need ID to walk, but if you’re going to commit a crime, then they’ll ask for it. Jaywalking is a crime, just because it’s not a frequently-enforced one anymore, doesn’t mean it still can’t be. (Hey NYC’s Dept. of Finance, enforce this shit! There’s your freakin’ revenue! Leave the meters alone!)

    Jaywalking’s dangerous! I’ve already almost hit two jaywalkers this weekend on Ocean Avenue and Ocean Parkway in the middle of the night (do not cross in the middle at night in black clothes!)

  6. u need to carry identification at all time. sit in a court room for a day and hear how many dozens of people are summonsed for not carrying id .

  7. He couldn’t produce ID because it was the sabbath. Understandable. He offered to get the ID from his home. Seems fair enough to me. So why were the cops being so difficult? Take a walk down the block and let the guy produce the ID.

    The flip side of this, however, is that I’ve been hearing stories from people about how the local civilian patrols have been harassing people for behavior which violates Jewish, but not civil law. Bicyclists in Midwood have been threatened, I was told of a woman wearing a short skirt who was told to leave the neighborhood. (She lives in Midwood) Jewish law applies to observant Jews. Civil law applies to all. Neighborhood patrols should recognize and respect the difference between the two.

    Place of place is a admirable quality. But there are limitations to how far one can go to achieve an environment that is comfortable to live in.

  8. According to Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court (2004) 542 U.S. 177, a person only need identify themselves by name. The ruling does not specify how this is to be done.

    N.Y. CPL. LAW § 140.50 : NY Code – Section 140.50: Temporary questioning of persons in public places; search for weapons

    1. In addition to the authority provided by this article for making an
    arrest without a warrant, a police officer may stop a person in a public
    place located within the geographical area of such officer’s employment
    when he reasonably suspects that such person is committing, has
    committed or is about to commit either (a) a felony or (b) a misdemeanor
    defined in the penal law, and may demand of him his name, address and an
    explanation of his conduct.

    Again, you specific requirements here. An oral answer should suffice in most cases.

  9. Forget for a sec the background of the person getting the ticket. I would like to know how long this cop has been a cop. I would also like to know in all his time being a cop how many jaywalking tickets has he issued. It would be interesting if he has been working for a while and this is the first time he stops someone and issues a ticket for jaywalking.

  10. There could be a myraid of reasons for not wanting to escort someone to their home. For one, you may not even know if they are taking you to their home or if it’s a setup for an ambush. They could also be buying time for them to escape.

  11. They are not allowed to carry a tallit or prayer book either. They have to wear the tallit. They can’t simply stick a drivers license in their pocket, not even a key. That’s why the ultra orthodox wear their keys as tie clips to make it “legal.”

    I’m wondering if the officers weren’t just simply harassing him because the last time I heard of anyone being given a ticket for jaywalking was about six years ago during a crackdown. Wonder what the fine is anyway still $20 or now $100? That seems to be the fine for anything these days.

  12. Exactly what I was thinking.

    The only legitimate reason for the ticket that I could see is if they were driving in their car and believed he was putting himself in danger by crossing wearing all black as someone pointed out. In that case, he should have been stopped and warned about the danger, not necessarily being given a ticket. If it was done to fulfill a quota which the police don’t have (only performance goals), then it is also wrong.

    It is extremely easy to hit someone wearing all black at night as any driver could tell you and for that reason he shouldn’t have been doing it. Otherwise it is a law that is mostly ignored unless there is heavy traffic.

  13. Isn’t a drivers license supposed to be used for driving? You have no need to carry ID on you while walking on the street

  14. Isn’t a drivers license supposed to be used for driving? You have no need to carry ID on you while walking on the street.

  15. That’s a possibility.

    It’s a Friday night and the cops should be aware that he was either coming from or going to services. OK, he jaywalks. Perhaps they were annoyed because he did it in front of them. Or it might be that they decided they would disrespect his sabbath by harassing him.

    There is also the possibility that he wasn’t polite when he was stopped, and that annoyed the cops.

    Doubt we’ll find out more information.

  16. i know, i was doing newpaper layout for the yated (jewish paper in monsey) and we had to photoshop women out of pictures and blur their faces. what century do we live in?

  17. They should go to Kiryas Joel if they are so upset with living among people that don’t share their values. They have no expectation that they won’t be constantly assaulted by titillating stimuli in NYC. Even in Midwood.

    The extreme Ortodox won’t watch TV for that reason.

    I guess the rest of us are all guaranteed a place in hell. (Or is that a uniquely Christian concept?)

  18. Seriously….. for J walking……. Wow, no wonder no one has any respect for NYPD… a Summons for J Walking, Seriously? Whats next? they gonna ticket people for Sneezing without a handkerchief cause believe it or not, that is part of our Law, LOL

  19. There may be no actual NEED to carry a drivers license, it’s just the most common form of ID, and while it’s not a law that you must carry ID, it would make sense since it is against the law not to identify yourself to authorities when asked. It would just be easier to have it so they can see it if asked.

  20. There are a lot of things that are considered “not allowed” and are still done. I see lots of people carrying, not wearing, Tallit and books on Shabbat to and from shul (synogogue). I always carried my ID with me, because it makes sense to have identification on your person at all times.
    There are also always exceptions, and if one can carry a key on a string or as a tie clip, they can clip their ID behind the tie or stick it in a pocket.
    Let the rabbis argue the validity of carrying an ID on Shabbat and in the meantime, allow citizens to be able to identify themselves without problems when asked.

    While the police could have written the information down themselves as he recited his name and address, it would still have helped his case some by having the ID on his person.

  21. All you are required to do is give your name, and possibly an accounting of what you are doing. No physical ID is necessary by law.

    I posted this above, but I’ll do it again.

    N.Y. CPL. LAW § 140.50 : NY Code – Section 140.50: Temporary questioning of persons in public places; search for weapons

    1. In addition to the authority provided by this article for making an
    arrest without a warrant, a police officer may stop a person in a public
    place located within the geographical area of such officer’s employment
    when he reasonably suspects that such person is committing, has
    committed or is about to commit either (a) a felony or (b) a misdemeanor
    defined in the penal law, and may demand of him his name, address and an
    explanation of his conduct.

    The demand may be met verbally, since there is no specific wordage of how it is to be met.

  22. Everyone should always carry ID anyway. What if this man had been hit while jay walking?

    Remember, always carry ID and wear clean underpants!

  23. There’s a lot of stupid to go around on this one, isn’t there?(1) “Our constitution guarantees us the right to practice our religion without fear of persecution…” I think the Framers were mainly thinking about allowing congregants to build a house of worship on Park Place or Voorhies Avenue even if some people didn’t like them, or not requiring a loyalty oath that places one religion above the rest. The Framers probably weren’t so concerned about an isolated case of a man being forced to use a pencil on a Friday night.(2) I think it is pretty well accepted that civil law takes priority over religious law. And while I know the Councilman is concerned about the hardships placed on the observant community by sanitation and parking laws (i.e. not being able to place trash on the curbside until after 5pm, which is a problem on Fridays in the winter when that is after sundown), I have yet to hear him challenge those laws on First Amendment grounds.(3) That said, I can’t think of any good reason based in civil law why the cops would do this. Not sure if they were intentionally trying to be dicks, or if it’s just in their nature, but that’s what this one comes down to.(4) It is not a requirement in the United States to have an ID. Obviously you need one to do a lot of the day-to-day things that we take for granted – drive a car, open a bank account, pick up packages at the post office, buy alcohol, cross an international boundary, etc etc etc – but at the end of the day, possession of ID is needed only on a task-by-task basis, it is not required to simply live here. If possessing an ID is note a requirement, it therefore cannot be a requirement to carry one. The Supreme Court has ruled that police have the authority to ask people to identify themselves by saying who they are, not necessarily produce an identity document.(5) I’m not sure if NYC has an ID-carry law (I seem to remember Giuliani enforcing such a thing), but if it does, it’s stupid, and for the reasons laid out above, superceded by state and federal law.(6) Also, I’m in favor of selective enforcement when it comes to jaywalking laws. If you’re jaywalking in front of a car or a bike, then yeah – you are doing something blatantly stupid and I’d be the first in line to give you a ticket for it. If there’s no traffic coming, then quite frankly I’ll be the first to amble across the street in the middle of the block. A person just has to use common sense about it, and so do the police.

  24. Tell that to City officials. I once heard either the mayor of the police commissioner state on TV that the police have the right to arrest you if you can’t produce ID when stopped and requested to do so. They shouldn’t be spreading false information.

  25. I got disenfranchised from my church because I stopped going to services. The details there are rather amusing, my father, who was on their board asked me if I intended to attend and I aid “probably no”, so I was dropped from the membership rolls. I have no problem with them, they’re one of the better churches in our community, they’re not anti-mosque.

    Lots of churches went the secular humanism route. In essence they removed themselves from the reason for existing in the first place, They do still use a religious framework as a loose connection to some of their most traditional-minded members. But it’s a weak one.

  26. Don’t get me wrong – in Peace Action I work alongside some deeply religious people (such as from Pax Christi – a Catholic group), and we do great things together.

    But I personally reject dogma (in my case, the one coming from “Are you Jewish?” people who insist that I read/wear/say certain things).
    I also have to see a reason behind a law or a rule, etc. Naturally, all this has brought me to the actual Secular Humanism (which is more than just atheism, by the way). I have to say, I am happy where I am…

  27. I looked into groups like the Unitarians but I found them as individuals to be flawed. The internal politics distressed me. It works for some people, which is fine.

    Religious organizations which have gone towards secular humanism (to varying degrees) get back to the core values of religious belief, which that people have to work together and make society better for everyone, regardless of what they believe. Eventually we should all get to a place where this is second nature. But its going to take getting past materialistic concerns to make that happen.

    Oh well, probably said more than I should right now.

  28. I heard that, it was a police commissioner who should have checked the CPL before opening his mouth. Any first year law student knows a verbal statement is sufficient. What could get you arrested is refusing to answer the question altogether. Or refusing to account for your recent activity. As a matter of common law the police do have the right to ask you why you are in a specific place and where you came from.

  29. You are 100% correct. Though, from what I am reading here, some of the commenters are not very objective. If the man was looked upon as an ‘outsider’, these same people would be thanking the cops for doing their job. They would not be referencing this same obscure code language to defend someone who was not one of their own.

  30. Jaywalking! Good heavens! Next thing it will be spitting on the sidewalk and wearing white after labor day! It doesn’t matter what religion he belongs to I say the police have better things to do with their time. I’d dearly love to see them ticket and even apprehend the adult cyclists that ride the sidewalks in Sheepshead Bay and surrounding neighborhoods. One time I was nearly run over twice in a matter of 30 minutes by some fool in a bright yellow jacket on two wheels. Four wheeled maniacs are bad enough. I’m going to be photographing these cyclists more and submit as many pictures as I can get to the Precinct. Heck, I even saw one guy ride his bike right past the sidewalk in front of the 61st!

  31. Well, as we established in both the “mosque” and “russians” threads, nobody is perfect.
    Indeed, I have seen some kind of what we call “politics” in EVERY group, political, religious or scientific. For example, two Peace Action affiliates going into arbitration over territorial divide. But we put it behind us this summer, after 3 years (better late than never).
    The trick is to renew your anti-depressant prescription and move ahead, since it’s all for a common goal…

  32. Suspect there’s blamew to spare on both sides. Ironic though;seems the Sephardic Jewish community, after overwhelmingly supporting Mayor Moneybags’ illegal 3rd term, suddenly doesn’t appreciate his demands for summonses and the resulting fineincome he so loves. And this is what when they or any community are subject to these stupid police summons quotas. Scary part is many of these young cops are being trained to write summonses on demand and at will, but have no idea how to be cops.

  33. A similar thing happened in Williamsburg, but according to how that story was told, people were politely informed that they were offending residents of that neighborhood by their dress and were asked to dress more modestly in the future.

    I think it is totally ridiculous. If it’s a public street, you should not have to adhere to someone else’s religious beliefs. Are all women supposed to cover their faces in a Muslim neighborhood? In fact the skimpy clothes worn by women in the summer was one of the reasons the bike lane on Kent Avenue was opposed. If they want to wear long sleeves in the summer, that is their business but to stop a woman with a sleeveless dress in the summer, that is just wrong.

  34. I’ve had several arguments with the “Are you Jewish?” people. I once asked for a reason behind a law or rule and they couldn’t give me any other than saying that I must obey. I told them that that wasn’t good enough for me and walked away. Another time, he tried to give me a reason. I said okay, but after I thought about it, I realized his reason didn’t even make sense.

  35. Tony,

    First off, lets listen to the the United States Supreme Court . The United States Supreme Court held in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court (2004) 542 U.S. 177, was that a state could make it a crime for a person to refuse to identify himself (tell the officer his name and address) when lawfully detained for criminal activity.

    Note that the Supreme Court did NOT say that any kind of identification papers could be required, nor did they say that police officers could ordinarily arrest someone for refusing to identify himself absent a state law permitting that arrest. There is no law in the United States requiring everybody to carry ID

  36. hahahaha wow jay walking pathetic city payroll thieves! Why dont you go to sheepshead bay and drive around the residential blocks and see how many criminals are trying to rob homes in these so called “safe areas.”

    Waste of tax money!

  37. Tell you what, I’ll feel bad when I hit your dumb, all black wearing at night, jaywalking butt, but don’t expect me to feel bad for your family, when you don’t come home, and no one knows where you are, because you were too paranoid, religious, or defiant to carry some form of I.D. on you.

  38. Impure thoughts??? now thats funny!!! Do you know how many ordthodox jews get arrested on a daily basis for soliciting prostitutes? ALOT!!!

  39. That’s for the private patrols to do. Why do you think they exist? The City’s job is to drive around figuring out who to issue tickets and raise revenue. Oops. What am I talking about? I must be he mayor.

  40. What else is new..and the police wants to be respected after stories like this? The Bravest and the Finest?

  41. The nickname for “New York’s Bravest” are the firefighters (August 1862), while the “Finest” are the police (November 1865). Also the “Strongest” are the Sanitation workers (July 1981) and the “Boldest” are the Corrections officers (June 1996). All four nicknames were first used in print by The New York Times.

  42. I am shocked and disappointed at the behaviour of the Cops. They, and the 61 need a session on sensitivity training. I would encourage everyone Jay Walk and not carry Identification. Requiring us to carry Identification makes us a Third World Country. In NYC, ticketing a Jay walker is ridiculous. I personally am handicapped. I cannot not walk the .11 of a mile to cross the street. That is how long a city avenue street. I am not about to. This is just as ludicrous as ticketing a women sitting on a Milk box in a subway station.

    Haven’t they better things to do.

  43. cant help but wonder if this was a certain blond female police officer who seems to ticket every one in sight around kings highway

  44. Yeah, and he was forced to make a terrible sin – to write his name on a piece of paper… If they want to live this way – why not to live in a forest or somewhere on a mountain tip – no police, no IDs… and practice, practice, practice religion.

  45. This in not about him having his id or jaywalking like honestly who still gets tickets for that if it was anybody else the cops wouldn’t even bother! the reason they did is because they r antisemetic pigs!!! and that’s bout it i hope they get sued go fight real crime!

  46. this is the dumbest thing i’ve heard. now ur gonna have shumcks all over the place making up “religious rules” to get out of everything.

  47. Making up? It’s not MADE UP, it’s been like this for Centuries, do you know what a History book is?

    This case is Legit. those cops shouldn’t have done that and just Walked him to his house. But instead they wanted to be the Big Shits. ( Wonder what religion they were cause if someone went against something they ” believed ” They would be all over that person like flies on shit….

  48. I know exactly who your talkin about, she stands near East 12th over there… right by Amazon Cafe’s corner….

    She is a Douche. once got a ticket for spitting on the floor….. I had bronchitis and i told her that my doctor told me to Cough shit up…. still got a ticket…. bitch.

  49. It’s cases like this, the spitting, the milk crate, etc, that makes people lose respect for the police. Put the police under the Department of Finance already where Bloomberg seems to feel where they belong.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here