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September 11, 2008 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-09-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Crimes Continue

Orthodox Jews attacked in Oak Park.

Shell! Liebman Dorfman

Senior Writer

F

il our days after three suspects
were arrested for Aug. 27 attacks
against members of the Orthodox
community — near the intersection of
10 Mile and Greenfield roads in Oak Park
— another incident took place close by.
On Sept. 3, at 10:25 p.m., an Orthodox
man was attacked in front of his home in
Oak Park, near Harding and 10 Mile.
"In that incident, a 67-year-old man had
just arrived home in his car:' said John
McNeilance, director of public safety for
the city of Oak Park. "He parked in the
street, pulled another parked car into the
driveway and was in the process of return-
ing to the original car when he encoun-
tered a lone black male who had been
standing near the bushes holding a gun."
McNeilance said the suspect demanded
money then pushed the victim to the
ground and kicked him once in the face.
"When the man yelled for help, a neigh-
bor came outside and the suspect ran to
a small black car parked in the street and
fled the area;' McNeilance said. "The vic-
tim suffered a mark on his cheek, a small
cut above his eye and an abrasion on his
hand from the fall."
McNeilance said the case is under active
investigation, but no suspects have been
arrested.
The 15- and 16-year-old suspects appre-
hended in the Aug. 27 cases were arrested
on charges of assault and robbery in three
separate incidents. Two were from Detroit
and one from Southfield. Three of their
four victims are Orthodox Jews; one is not
Jewish. None of the victims was seriously
injured but each was threatened, punched
or shoved; and in each attack, the suspects
claimed to have a gun.
The three Aug. 27 incidents took
place within a one-hour time frame.
The first victim, a 48-year-old man, was
approached by three juveniles while on
the way to his mailbox at 9:45 p.m. He was
pushed to the ground and robbed of his
cell phone.
At 10:03 p.m., a man walking in a
nearby neighborhood was shoved and
punched. At 10:50 p.m., Tova Schreiber
and a male friend, both 20 and Oak Park
residents, were robbed of their cellphones;
the male was robbed of his wallet and

suffered a swollen eye and cuts to the
face when he was hit and knocked to the
ground.

Other Attacks
In the past 20 months, other incidents
involving the Orthodox community
have taken place in Oak Park and in the
Southfield area bounded by Greenfield,
Pierce, 10 Mile and Lincoln.
In the winter of 2007, snowballs and
rocks were thrown at congregants outside
the Bais Chabad Torah Center of North
Oak Park. No arrests were made.
Several incidents of threats and assault
were reported in the area near Greenfield
and Lincoln during that summer, includ-
ing taunting of men and boys dressed in
traditional Jewish garb and the beating of
a man near the Kollel Institute of Greater
Detroit. No arrests were made.
This past February, Rabbi Avie Shapiro
was robbed at gunpoint outside a relative's
home not far from his own on the east
edge of Southfield near 10 Mile. No sus-
pects were arrested.
On March 1, several assault-and-battery
incidents took place in Southfield against
men walking alone on Shabbat, including
being chased, pushed, hit with snowballs
and unknown objects and punched in the
back and head. One attack resulted in a
minor ear cut.
All the victims were Southfield residents
in their 40s and 50s wearing Orthodox-
style black hats, which were knocked off
their heads.
Three African American 14-year-
old males — including one from Oak
Park and one from Southfield — were
arraigned the week after the incidents
on charges of felony assault with intent
to rob while unarmed. The third youth, a
15-year-old from Southfield, was arrested
on a charge of misdemeanor assault and
battery.
No racial or anti-Semitic comments
were made in any of the Oak Park or
Southfield cases, but at least one victim's
statement from the March 1 attacks
included that he felt he was assaulted
because of his Jewish faith.
In the Aug. 27 cases, McNeilance said,
"We believe that the three juveniles chose
their victims according to who they hap-
pened to encounter while walking through
the neighborhood. There is no evidence

Tova Schreiber was robbed and her friend was attacked.

of any motivation related to some of the
victims being Jewish:"

What's Being Done?
Following the initial incident in the
winter of 2007, Oak Park police patrols
— including undercover officers — were
increased in the area. That summer,
spurred by threat and assault incidents in
north Oak Park, Oak Park Mayor Gerald
E. Naftaly met with community members,
rabbinic leaders and the city's public safe-
ty director. Police patrols were increased
and a special city council meeting was
held to discuss safety measures.
Following the February 2008 robbery
of Rabbi Shapiro and assault-and-battery
cases a few weeks later, Southfield police
also increased patrols.
At that time, a private security com-
pany was hired to patrol on both the Oak
Park and Southfield sides of Greenfield
on Shabbat and holidays, said Michael
Eizelman, an Oak Park resident involved
with a group that is planning safety mea-
sures.
In addition, said McNeilance, "The
Public Safety Department has also put on
crime prevention talks for the benefit of
city residents at the Jewish Community
Center in Oak Park. We have met with
members of the community on a few
occasions and have suggested they form a

neighborhood watch group."
According to Eizelman,"No group has
been formed as of now, but we will be
working with government and public
safety leaders in both cities on creating a
neighborhood watch."
In addition, members of both com-
munities attended a Sept. 7 preliminary
meeting to discuss the incidents. Future
meetings are planned.
McNeilance said, "We have given extra
patrol attention to the area, particu-
larly during the Sabbath, when there is
increased pedestrian traffic to and from
the synagogues." Both Oak Park and
Southfield are increasing patrols during
the High Holidays.
For Avie Shapiro, no amount of secu-
rity is too much. "Anyone who has not
looked into the barrel of a gun, not know-
ing whether they were about to be shot
in the face or in the chest, just wouldn't
understand the fear that lingers weeks
and months later as the victim of the act
relives the incident:'
Added Schreiber, "It is of maximum
importance that we begin to defend our-
selves and not allow others to harm us.
Every time a Jew in our area is threatened,
assaulted, robbed or otherwise and noth-
ing is done in response, a huge chillul
HaShem [desecration of God's name]
stains the community"



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September 1102008

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