A 15-year-old black male, and honors student at Lakewood's high school, takes a shortcut through a path on private property in a largely haredi section of town. The path is not labeled as private, and there are no "No Trespassing!" signs. A resident – not the property owner, it seems – warns the youth, tries to photograph him and then beats him as a crowd of haredi men rush out of an adjacent synagogue and help with the beating, uttering racial slurs and warning the youth to stay away from the "Jewish" part of town.
Police arrive on the scene and arrest the haredi attacker. The town's NAACP chapter wants the attacker charged with a bias crime, which would carry a more severe penalty that the simple assault he is charged with. They also want the haredi onlookers who facilitated the beating to be charged. The youth says what he wants most is an apology from those men. Police say they cannot locate or identify those men, and prosecutors refuse to add bias charges.
Yet Lakewood's haredi mayor offers to arrange a private apology from those men to the black youth if the matter can be kept out of the courts. The NAACP wants to know how the mayor can do that if the police don't know who those men are – obviously, the NAACP says, the mayor does know the identities of some or all of the men.
If he does, but does not tell police and prosecutors, he has committed a crime and should be charged and removed from office. But if the mayor follows the law he is elected to uphold, and gives those names to police and prosecutors, he has, according to the normative haredi interpretation, transgressed the halakha (Jewish law) against mesira, informing.
- What should the mayor do?
- Can an Orthodox Jew hold elected position when that position requires him to uphold local, state or federal law, when that law may conflict with Torah law?
- Does the haredi desire to protect their communities, admirable and necessary as that often is, justify gratuitous violence?
- If a 15-year-old yeshiva student took a shortcut through black-owned property and as a result was beaten by blacks who rushed out of a black community center, and was warned to stay away from black neighborhoods, and had antisemitic insults hurled at him, would we view it as a bias crime?
- If the black mayor made a private offer to facilitate an apology from black men the black police somehow could not locate, would we demand the immediate removal of the mayor for failure to enforce and uphold the law?
What do you think?
[Hat Tip: Nigratude Ultramarine.]