The Flatbush Shomrim — a safety patrol of observant Jews — has been on fire lately. Last week they caught a graffiti artist and a car-breaker, and yesterday they took down a burglar. The Crown Heights Shomrim, meanwhile, has been much busier in court, with six of its members charged with beating up some students after they responded to a yeshiva brawl on Eastern Parkway two years ago, allegedly over a dormitory bed.
The trial started yesterday and “veered close to farce,” says the Daily News, with heckling from spectators and “six defense lawyers objecting at once” as confusion ensued over the identity of the six bearded defendants. One attorney announced after the session, “I’m going to call the Messiah as my first witness”…
It has been suggested that the charges were instigated by a rival patrol called Shmira, which broke with the original squad years ago. A defense fund has been raised for the accused, and Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky laments that “Torah rule dictates that Jewish people should bring their disputes, arguments and grievances against a fellow Jew to a Beis Din. Going to the civil court system is a heinous iniquity and a blatant contemptuous behavior against Torah.” Others claim that “the Bochurim received explicit permission to file charges from both Rabbi Shwei and Rabbi Osdoba respectively… and anyone who claims otherwise is simply spreading libelous slander.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 3, 2009