Thursday, Oct 28, 2021

The Rock On Ridge Avenue

Rock Throwing Attack Shakes Up Community Last Friday afternoon, June 15, about 12:30 p.m., a UTA Satmar yeshiva boys' bus, traveling on Ridge Avenue near the UTA building, (right near a large development for Jewish families,) came under attack. A group of aggressive youths, waiting for their afternoon bus to bring them to school for finals, began throwing rocks at the bus windows. This was not the first rock throwing attack—according to the UTA transportation coordinator, there have been several rocks thrown at buses and school windows during the past few weeks, causing considerable damage. As one parent observed, “We felt like we were in East Jerusalem, near the Arabs, instead of Spring Valley.”

The terrified boys on the bus shrieked, terrified, as a medium-sized rock shattered the bus window and landed on the head of eight year old A. Frankel, breaking his skull and causing severe bleeding. Hearing the frantic shouts, the bus driver stopped driving and called Hatzoloh. In the interim, the stone-throwing perps boarded their buses and disappeared.

 

Within moments, Hatzoloh volunteers arrived, and rushed the child to Nyack Hospital. A few hours later, when it was determined that his skull was fractured, he was transferred to Westchester Medical Center. Late on Friday night, the little boy had an emergency four hour surgery to ease the pressure in his brain and rebuild the broken bone. The neurosurgeon attested that had the stone landed one milimeter away, the child would have become brain damaged–or worse. It was a miracle that he “only” needed surgery and was able to go home two days later.

 

Twenty minutes after the child was taken to the hospital, two police officers, a Hispanic man and an African-American woman, arrived on the scene to find utter chaos. The street was full of spectators, lots of shouting and commotion. In the meantime, another UTA bus, riding past, had blocked a nearby car, thinking the perp was hiding inside.

 

Instead of trying to figure out what happened, and how seriously injured the child was, the Spring Valley Officers kept busy with crowd control, threatening to arrest anyone who didn’t move away from the area. Noticing a Jewish man filming the scene, they warned him to close his camera if he doesn’t want to be arrested; a black woman who was filming was left alone. They warned everyone to disperse and clear the area, which was not a high-traffic location, but a side street.

 

During the heated conversation that followed, the bus driver and transportation coordinator related what had occurred, and asked the police officers to search for the boy who had thrown the rock.

 

Incredibly, their reply was, “Well, we are not allowed to arrest him, because he is probably a minor. Besides, we need to ask his parents’ permission to interrogate him, and read his rights first. Anyhow, you are blocking traffic here and causing a lot of trouble.”

 

It was quite obvious that the last thing the officers wanted to do was actually catch the stone-thrower, and possibly upset the feelings of residents in the minority neighborhood.

 

What the police were really upset about, (forget about the child’s broken skull,) was the fact that a second UTA driver had blocked a private car, with no ‘permission’ from authorities. After warning everyone to move unless they wanted to go to jail, the police succeeded in clearing Ridge Avenue once more. On Sunday, they arrested the second UTA bus driver on the scene for his ‘crime.’

 

Realizing that waiting for the officers to take action was counter-productive, the UTA transportation coordinator called Mr. Brian Malloy, a principal in the East Ramapo School District, who immediately sprang into action. Mr. Malloy figured out which school the Ridge Avenue perp was heading to, went to the building, and initiated a lockdown. The principal warned the students that until the perpetuator of the attack is identified, no one was allowed to leave the building.

 

It only took about an hour for the stone-thrower, a twelve year old boy, to be identified by his friends. His parents and the police were notified, and Spring Valley detectives took over the case.

 

On Sunday, when the Frankel boy was released from the hospital following his surgery, two detectives visited his home, took a statement, and spoke extensively with his parents. According to Mrs. Frankel, the detectives were polite, efficient, and determined to stop these types of attacks from happening again. It was a relief to see that the situation was being taken seriously–at last.

 

“We have no complaints with the way the situation was handled,” said Mrs. Frankel, “and we are very grateful to Hashem for the miracle that occurred with our precious son. We hope and pray that this type of situation won’t happen again, for the safety of our children.”

 

Thankfully, the detectives and higher-ranking officials within the Spring Valley Police Department treated this crime with the seriousness it deserves, arresting the stone-thrower, who has been expelled from school, and starting an investigation. But the behavior of the lower-ranking police who arrived at the scene of the crime was obviously suspect.

 

This is not the first time that police have been called regarding damage from rock-throwing youths. On May 23, two UTA bus drivers noticed that their bus windows were shattered from rocks. When they called the police, a dispatcher said that the buses should be driven to police headquarters. This was against common protocol in the rest of the nation—everyone knows that you bring the police to the crime scene, instead of the other way around!

 

Although the jurisdiction of the S.V. police is only three square miles, in the past they have been slow to respond to incidents of possible vandalism and hate crimes, such as rocks thrown into the UTA school building, water balloons thrown at a Jewish driver last summer, (nearly causing him to lose control of his car), and numerous other situations.

 

The professionalism and concern of the higher-ranking police detectives, and their determination to stop these rock-throwing attacks, is a welcome change.

 

But what was truly disgraceful was the Journal News article describing the incident, which downplayed the child’s injuries, the motives of the rock thrower, and sought to brush the whole thing aside as a simple misunderstanding. And we quote:

 

“There will be no hate-crime charge stemming from a rock-throwing incident at South Main Street on Friday that sent a boy to the hospital.

 

“Spring Valley police have already charged a 12-year-old boy with second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. He is accused of throwing a rock at a school bus on South Main Street about 12:30 p.m., police said. The bus was carrying 9- and 10-year-old boys from the United Talmudical Academy, a Satmar Hasidic Jewish school on Madison Avenue in the village.

 

“The rock shattered a window and one 9-year-old boy was cut on the head by glass. The boy was taken to Westchester Medical Center for surgery, said Shmul Orlanski, the academy’s transportation director. The boy was released Sunday.

 

“Police Chief Paul Modica said Sunday that the department had interviewed the 12-year-old Saturday and declined to charge him with a hate crime.

 

“The 12-year-old, who has not been identified because of his age, told police he was playing with a group of friends when the incident occurred and did not mean to hit the bus. He is due in Family Court this week.”

 

A serious head injury becomes a ‘cut on the head by glass,’ and a twelve year old rock thrower, who caused a child to have a surgery on his broken skull, was ‘merely playing with friends.’ Its almost as if The Journal News wants the chasidim to move out of Monsey and Spring Valley, and go back to where they came from. Oh, they aren’t wanted there either?

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