Jewish homes in Jackson under ‘uber-creepy’ surveillance
For a while now, the blog "Jackson Leaks" has been publishing what I consider to be some pretty scary communiques detailing surveillance of private homes suspected of holding organized prayer groups.
The details in these memos include some very intrusive fact-finding — showing local officials surveilling houses to count the numbers of people entering homes, numbers of cars in private driveways, numbers of cars parked in front of homes and even — and this is uber-creepy — numbers of “Bibles” viewed though car windows.
For those of you who may not be aware, Jackson is a town that finds itself reeling from the recent influx of Orthodox Jews. Some of you may also be unaware that it is not illegal to meet for organized worship in private homes. That said, I’ve been hesitant to report the very interesting soap opera going on in Jackson, as I didn’t wanna be the one to share stories of cops or local government officials allegedly spying on Jews in Jackson. Especially because I know cops and local government flunkies are generally just doing their jobs and following orders.
I always like to give the benefit of the doubt, especially in light of the sensitive issues at play here: freedom to worship vs. a community’s shock and confusion at the drastic (and rapid) changes in a neighborhood due to the recent influx of Orthodox Jews. I can see both sides, so I left the story alone, even though it came with some very disturbing leaked memos detailing this surveillance of private homes. This is America after all, and we generally don’t take kindly to cops or any other government officials staking out our homes when we’re not doing anything illegal.
But now, I’ve got to share: This is an awkwardly interesting conversation between polite, albeit cautious and seemingly perplexed code enforcement officers and a homeowner “suspected” of having prayer services in his home — thanks to a “helpful” neighbor who videotaped the evidence to forward to police.
The Jackson Leaks memos portray a serious and scary alleged breaches of privacy, constitutionality and possibly, the law. And I can't stop reading ‘em ... and just I can’t believe it’s happening.
The lesson here? You may not like your neighbors, but if you allow the government to bend the constitution to your will, you may not like it when they bend it to theirs.
Dennis and Judi are on the air weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tweet them @DennisandJudi or @NJ1015.