Today, Thursday, hundreds of Crown Heights residents packed into JCM’s second floor social hall for a press conference and discussion with the NYPD. Present were representatives from the Police Department, including Brooklyn South Assistant Chief Steven Powers and newly appointed Captain of the 71st Precinct Norman Grandstaff, as well as community leaders, activists, and elected representatives.
Chief Powers began by briefing the community on the recent apprehension of an attacker, which the NYPD currently believes was also the stabber of Leiby Brickman, though the DNA results has yet to confirm that contention.
“We think we’ve got a very winnable, prosecutable case,” said Powers.
Mrs. Rivka Brickman then took the podium and thanked the NYPD for their efforts, and the community for showing their unity and support. But she reminded that it’s still not clear whether Leiby’s attacker was in fact the assailant apprehended, and that he may still be at large. Mrs. Brickman also called for more discretion and responsibility from the community websites in their reporting about the arrests in this case, and other cases going forward.
Residents expressed gratitude, but also some concerns, causing tension at times. One resident suggested that we should take measures in educating neighboring communities about our community. “We should walk into local high school hallways to show them that Jews are human.”
Another resident intoned that a moment of silence every morning in the local schools will make for safer, stronger communities.
Others wondered why the NYPD spikes patrols for a week or two, flooding the neighborhood with officers, before again reducing it to crime-enabling levels.
While at times Chief Powers seemed sympathetic to these ideas, he noted that this meeting is only about this case, and that this is not the forum for a wider discussion on education and community relations. He also noted that Crown Heights has very wide coverage of police presence, more then most other communities.
Assemblyman Dov Hiking thanked the NYPD and Shmira for keeping us safe, before reminding that Anti-Semitism is alive and well on college campuses, and rising frighteningly in areas near our community.
State Senator Jesse Hamilton addressed the communities concerns, stating that there should never be a situation when people feel unsafe and must turn to look behind their backs. He finished by recounting his recent trip to Israel, where he felt right at home among the Jewish communities. It was due to that trip, said Mr.Hamilton, that he came out against the Iranian Nuclear Deal.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was out of town but sent a representative to show solidarity with the community, who thanked the NYPD and Shmira for their service and ccommitment