Lakewood crowd jeers cops as ‘Gestapo’ as they arrest rabbi in lawsuit
LAKEWOOD — An angry crowd of men shouted at police officers arresting a rabbi on Monday night, calling the officers "Gestapo," the secret police of Nazi Germany.
The man who was arrested was Yisrael Knopfler, according to a report in the Asbury Park Press — the Lakewood rabbi who joined an Essex County priest to sue the state in federal court over the shutdown orders. The religious leaders say the order is a violation of their First Amendment rights to practice religion.
State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan on Tuesday mentioned three arrests in Lakewood over violations of Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order but did not identify who was arrested or offer further explanation for the arrests.
The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office confirmed late Tuesday that Knopfler had been arrested at his home in connection to an event celebrating holiday of Lag B’Omer, which marks the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, according to the website Chabad.org. It is usually celebrated with outings, bonfires and parades.
Murphy's executive order prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
A video posted on the YouTube channel of Lakewood-based First Amendment Activist claims to show Knopfler's arrest. The location of the video or a reason for the gathering is not explained.
In the video, a crowd of men watches several officers making the arrest. One of the men says to the officers, "You beat the hell out of a rabbi. Feel good?"
"When I grow up I can put on a blue shirt and beat the hell out of people," a male voice says several times.
"It feels good to embarrass the rabbi. It feels good to violate the U.S. Constitution," one of the men says.
Several officers lift the man and walk him toward a police vehicle. Cries of "Gestapo," "Nazi" and "anti-Semite" grow louder as the man is placed into the police vehicle.
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