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VIDEO: Protesters Demand NYPD 'Drop the Charges Now!' at Demonstration for Ehud Halevi

Protesters demand officers involved in Halevi beating are fired and the charges are dropped

"Drop the charges now! Drop the charges now!" chanted a crowd of about 200 Crown Heights community members Friday afternoon outside of the 71st Precinct on Empire Boulevard.

The group of protesters included lawyers, business owners, rabbis, women and children, all of whom marched from the Jewish Children's Museum on Eastern Parkway to the 71st Precinct, demanding the charges are dropped against 21-year-old Ehud Halevi, a community member who was beaten and arrested last Monday after he refused to leave a Jewish community center that housed troubled youth.

The demonstration, "Justice for Ehud," was in response to an incident caught on video showing two 71st Precinct officers battering Halevi about his head and body. The police officers were responding to a call by a center volunteer worker who believed Halevi was homeless and loitering inside of the center, although in fact Halevi had permission to be at the center. 

Halevi was arrested and charged with a felony count of assault on police officers and three misdemeanors: resisting arrest, obstruction and criminal trespass. NYPD has launched an investigation into the incident, while one of the officers, Luis A. Vega, who is seen on the video repeatedly punching Halevi, has been placed on modified duty.

But the charges against Halevi have not been dropped.

"It's important for people to know that we cannot tolerate this kind of brutality and the overwhelming vicious response that was used in this case is something that nobody should tolerate," said one of the protesters. "Now we want our generation and our children to know that this is just something that absolutely cannot and will not be tolerated by any one in any community at any time."

The crowd of protesters was orderly but resolute in its demand, which was two-fold: They wanted both of the officers who were involved in the incident removed from their posts; and they demanded the charges against Halevi were dropped.

Noted civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who is representing Halevi, helped to organize the rally and emphasized the importance of bringing in full community support to broker real change within the police department:

"There is a lot of outrage in this community in regards to what happened, and you need to have a safety valve in effect for the community to express its outrage in regards to what they saw on the tape," he said. "If we're dealing with systemic issues within the police department, then we need more than anything to have a unified voice."

However, the protesters also shared another carefully crafted message, which was to avoid indicting the entire police department. They tip-toed around any sweeping suggestions of corruption with NYPD and instead focused their ire on the two officers involved in Heluvi's case.

"Police officers in general do their job, they put their lives on the line," said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-48) at the rally. "But when there is an officer who behaves in the fashion of these two police officers, they do not belong on the police force, period!"

"While there are many police officers who are conscientious and diligent in the performance of their duties, there are elements unfortunately that feel they can take the law into their own hands," said Levi Yurman, a protester and attorney.

"This is about civil rights, because if one person's civil rights is taken away, all of our civil rights are taken away. That's why we must all work together."

"My experience is, if the community is there, it increases the likelihood that the charges are dropped and justice will be done," said Siegel.

BRADY October 20, 2012 at 04:53 PM
YES drop the charges NOW ! And drop the 24 hour police presence on kingstion and eastern pkwy and drop the flagging down of police officers to turn off the electric lights in the homes and business on the holy days ,and start writing the cars illegally parked because they can't be moved on a holy day but park them illegally anyway because no tickets will ever be issued ,except in all other neighborhoods,and stop allowing certain people to be given a DAT for crimes that other people would have to go through the''system'' for
BRADY October 20, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Pull out all of these obviously anti-semitic cops and let the Shomrim take over ,unless of course your a person of color ,and there are those of you who know exactly what i'm talking about.
Joe Gonzalez October 20, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Dov Hikind must be as concerned about NYPD goons abusing Black folks as he is about the NYPD abuse of a Hasidic Jewish man. I hope I live long enough to see the day when Dov Hikind and large numbers of Hasidic Jews people join arm in arm with Blacks to protest against NYPD abuse. Any takers?
ricardo besou October 22, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I don't know what are talking about Brady. But you seem like someone who uses their skin color as a reason for why people treat you the way they do. You should take a day to reflect on what kind of a person you are. Once you figure out what you do wrong,fix it and get over it. This person was wronged, every race has gone through this so its not about your skin color anymore.
BRADY October 31, 2012 at 06:37 AM
ricardo besou ,of course you don't know what i'm talking about ,you obviously don't live in NYC or any of the neighborhoods that this incident touches upon,i don't use my skin color as a reason to get special treatment any more than some people use their religion to get special treatment that no other races or religions get i.e. special patrols ,special block closings which restrict only a certain religion to park or pass through,or waving down cops to turn off electric lights because their religion forbids it after sundown even though the could have turned them off them selves before sundown but it would have cost them business so no RICARDO i know what kind of person i am i don't need to reflect i just want AND EXPECT THE SAME SERVICES THAT THIS RELIGION AND THE COLOR OF IT'S PEOPLES SKIN GET
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