October 20, 2012
NEW YORK CITY–On October 8, 2012, 21-year-old Ehud Halevi was sleeping in a youth center run by the New York synagogue where he’s a member. Ehud is homeless, so his Rabbi — who runs programs for at-risk youth like Ehud — had told him back in September he could sleep there.
In a video that’s now gone viral on the internet, two New York police officers are shown waking Ehud in the early morning. Even though Ehud explains to them that he has permission to sleep at the center, they try to arrest him. Then, the officers beat Ehud for almost 5 minutes straight — even after Ehud can be seen lying down.
And despite the NYPD’s beating, it’s Ehud who’s being charged with assault, and he faces 5 years in prison.
Rabbi Moishe Feiglin feels terrible. This happened at his synagogue’s center and to one of his congregants — and he just wants Ehud’s nightmare to end. Rabbi Feiglin started a petition on Change.org calling for the Brooklyn District Attorney to drop all charges against Ehud.
So far, the NYPD officer who was most involved in Ehud’s beating has only been minimally disciplined — his gun has been taken away and he’s been placed on desk duty — but the other officer hasn’t been disciplined at all. Rabbi Feiglin says this is unacceptable. Ehud was eventually arrested and charged with trespassing and assaulting an officer, even though the video shows he didn’t fight back.
In the past several months, several tapes of NYPD officers engaged in disproportional and violent exchanges have drawn heat to the department. With pressure rising, Rabbi Feiglin thinks that the support of thousands of people behind Ehud now can get the charges against him dropped.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
-Emilia and the Change.org team