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Special Emergency Issue #1
16 Shevat, 5767 / February 3, 2007
From: Boruch (Bryan) Ellison
A special alert for all our readers:
Our ongoing PLO-defunding campaign has finally provoked an outraged backlash from our opponents, in this case certain individuals who operate as "Hasidic rabbis" but desperately hope to stop the campaign cold!
On Friday, one of our volunteers was cited, then arrested, then un-arrested and instead placed in involuntary detention in a psychiatric hospital where he remains imprisoned without charges or legal justification at this hour. And the pretext for the whole illegal operation was the angry, hate-mongering demands of a tiny handful of opposing rabbis!
Shmuel, a Hasidic Jew who has long been active in Brooklyn, New York, with the JAHG-USA campaign to defund the PLO, was carrying out his usual activity of distributing fliers to yeshiva students in the area. Last week's flier was a reprint of our most recent update on terrorist attacks in Israel, with information on how students can participate in our campaign during their spare time. Shmuel has been handing out such fliers for several weeks, and in most yeshivas the students are generally interested and at least somewhat sympathetic.
That student sympathy is infuriating our opponents. So on Friday, at around noon (New York time), a few of those opponents struck back with a vengeance. Certain administrators saw Shmuel standing out in front of the Darchei Menachem Yeshiva on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, waiting for the students to come out so he could offer them copies of the latest flier.
Our opponents weren't about to let their students see that flier. So they kept the students holed up inside the yeshiva building, not allowing them to leave and called the New York City police department!
Within minutes, Shmuel found himself surrounded by multiple squad cars and police officers. But they couldn't figure out how to stop him from handing out fliers. They wanted to cite him for trespassing, but he was standing on the sidewalk, which is perfectly legal. So then one officer decided instead to cite him for "harassment" even though he hadn't yet even been able to hand out any fliers (nor is handing out fliers a violation of any law, "harassment" or otherwise!).
Realizing the harassment charge wouldn't stick, they decided simply to arrest him without naming any charge at all. One person snapped the cuffs on Shmuel, and soon he was sitting in a squad car about to be taken to the police station.
But it's hard to process an arrest without any charges. So the police changed tactics again and called out an ambulance. As soon as it arrived, they forced Shmuel out of the squad car and into the ambulance, without telling him where he was going, why, on what grounds, or even what was the name of the arresting officer.
Before he knew it, Shmuel found himself in the nearby, public psychiatric hospital. And that's where he has remained, against his will, since Friday afternoon. They've seized his wallet and personal ID; they're denying him access to a phone to receive incoming calls (although they allowed him to call out at his own expense, and that's how he alerted us to his situation); by Saturday, they changed his status and forcibly admitted him to the hospital without hope of release anytime soon; and they're threatening to keep him there indefinitely unless he "volunteers" to be interviewed by a staff psychiatrist which would then open him up to an unfair, politically motivated "diagnosis" and permanent imprisonment!
So far, they have declared that Shmuel has the right to refuse medication. But they're taking away his rights, one by one, for the sake of intimidation. So we don't know how long that "right" will hold out.
In all of this, Shmuel has remained calm and well composed. Yet he has never been told on what grounds he's being held, nor on whose authority. The Brooklyn police refuse to tell us the name or badge number of the arresting officer, saying we must get that information from the hospital; the hospital refuses to release the information altogether.
This must be one of the clearest cases of unlawful detention, abuse of psychiatric authority, and denial of public information we've ever heard of!
That's where you come in. We need your help immediately!
We need to force the hospital to release Shmuel. The arresting officer(s) need to be investigated for unlawful arrest and prosecuted. The hospital authorities need to be slapped with legal actions. And so on.
But we don't have any lawyers to defend Shmuel's legal rights and to put the hospital and police on notice that they're facing serious legal troubles. And we don't have the money to afford any lawyer.
Shmuel has several friends fighting for him, but we need your help:
If the psychiatric authorities don't hear from Shmuel's friends and supporters if they don't see a noisy, public campaign to free Shmuel they'll assume they can imprison Shmuel with impunity. And we can't let that happen!
This is a fundamental issue of the legal right to disseminate Jewish views in public in the United States. And more importantly, it's an issue of preventing a horrible desecration of
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how you can help.
Meanwhile, we'll continue to keep you informed on the latest news in this shocking case of political and religious intimidation. And please keep Shmuel in your prayers.