Friday, May 23, 2008

Black, Jewish Crown Heights Leaders Seek Unity

Upswing In Recent Violence Has Communities At Odds
Fears Of Riots Similar To 1991 Grip Residents


Police are mobilizing a massive presence in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in the wake of increased tension between African American and Jewish communities.
Leaders from both communities have come together recently to preach cooperation among residents of the neighborhood where African
Americans and Hassidic Jews live side by side. But recent violence has shown that religion and race don't always mix.
"I definitely feel [like there's unrest] because I see it everyday. I'm around here a lot and that's what I'm hearing," said Crown Heights resident Anthony Rios.
Another resident, Joe Morgenstein, agreed, saying he hears "a lot of racial slurs all day" in the community.
Since 1991, when riots broke out after a 7-year-old black boy was killed by a Hassidic driver, and then a Jewish man was murdered by a group of African-Americans, Crown Heights has been hurt off-and-on by periodic tension.
In the past month, 20-year-old Andrew Charles, who is black, was beaten up, and the suspect is Jewish.
Then last week, 16-year-old Alon Sherman, who is Jewish, had his jaw broken while being allegedly robbed by two black teens. The attackers were arrested Thursday. Namor Clarke,17, and Basean Parker, 14, will be charged as adults for last Friday's assault on Sherman, officials said.
Inside a Jewish museum dedicated to tolerance and understanding, black and religious
leaders pleaded for the public to write a new history of race and religious relations.
"We are one standing together yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Forever," said Jewish
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn).
Added Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D-Dist. 40): "We may have arrived on different ships, but now we are all in the same boat."
It's a boat some don't want to see sink under the weight of ignorance and intolerance.
"It's a bad thing. I hope it doesn't escalate," one black resident told CBS 2. And if it does, there will be a quick response. "It's scary what's been going on, but I'm happy police are taking it seriously," said Chana Levine, a Jewish Crown Heights resident. Police admit their presence there is a temporary fix until tensions drop, but some fear once police leave, what's happened here will be repeated.

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