What baffles me is how an insular group of religious nuts who do not want to be part of the wider Hackney community, in many cases, don't work or contribute to our society, get away with the things they do.
The recent attack on a young Black traffic warden by a mob of members of the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community on Leeside Road in Stamford Hill, came as no surprise to me and it’s been a long time coming. The insular religious sect have always viewed outsiders with suspicion, more so if they are Black. But let me stress this whole ongoing palaver in Stamford Hill isn’t just about race. Black or white as long as you are not an Orthodox Jew, you are looked at with contempt and treated accordingly
The Traffic Warden was immediately portrayed as the aggressor and we were told he “ran over” someone’s foot (unsubstantiated), but from the limited video footage we see, it is evident the Traffic Warden was fearful of the mob that surrounded him and was trying to get away. Wouldn’t you? In the confusion surrounded by his attackers, it’s acceptable he may have ran over someone’s foot accidentally, but even this has not been proven.
There are many who find it unpalatable or afraid to speak about some of the vile and downright criminal behavior, of members of Stamford Hills Haredi community, in fear of being labelled anti-Semitic. However, in light of what took place on Monday 14 January, I hope for once, Hackney Police will grow balls and properly address the ciaos they have allowed to grow in Stamford Hill. Blame shouldn’t fall only on the shoulders of the police in Hackney, but also on those of Hackney Council, it’s planners, related officers and elected councilors who choose to turn a blind eye. What baffles me is how a group of religious nuts who do not want to be part of the wider Hackney community, in many cases, don’t work or contribute to our society, get away with the things they do. For such a small group of people, they continue to wield big and worrying influence, which only creates resentment among others. Few groups are better than Haredi’s at developing close relationships with elected officials, police, local government and maximizing access to government-funded programs and welfare benefits.
A Stamford Hill resident who doesn’t want to be named, told me he has made countless complaints about road safety rules in the area, but has been ignored by Hackney Council representatives police while the police have pussy footed around it. He said: “Stamford Hill has no real enforcement when it comes to any aspect of road safety, it’s pretty much be left to do its own thing by both Hackney Council and the Met police.
“There is no ‘revenue’ to collect by PCO’s because there are no parking restrictions to enforce, almost no yellow lines on dangerous junctions off the main arterial road (Lower/Upper Clapton and the A10). So no PCO’s, very little CCTV and a community that clearly feel they can drive in whatever manner they wish”.
Dented mini buses packed with children without seat belts, being shepherded to and from school by men talking on mobile phones in their hands, is a common sight in the area that goes unchallenged by law enforcement in the borough. Double/triple Parking on Dunsmure Road while members of the Haredi community do their shopping went unchallenged until recently, when local police responded to concerns of residents. But even that has not curbed their behaviour. Many remain indignant as evident from the tweet below. One person tweeted a photo of two traffic wardens chatting near his store (Getters Superstore on Dunsmure Rd), claiming the (Traffic Wardens) were anti-Semites, just because of their presence on a road where triple parking is an every day occurrence. You are quickly labeled an anti Semite if you bring it to their attention
# antisemitism on dunsmure road pic.twitter.com/DHjw1OQEuo
— Getters Superstore (@Gettersbest) January 29, 2015
The Hackney resident who wants his name withheld, also spoke of police apathy: “At one point as I was talking to a police officer while we stood at the edge of Upper Clapton Rd, I counted 14 vehicles drive past with 3/4/5 kids inside and none of them wearing seat belts. I started to take photographic evidence but was asked to not do so by the police officer as my actions may be considered inflammatory. He told me the consensus between local traffic enforcement is that because a great number of the community have Drivers Licences issued outside the UK, it’s often hard to make successful prosecutions and that the paperwork and man-hours relating to these issues, make it too time-consuming”.
For all his efforts to ensure the safety of he and the wider Stamford Hill community, he was rewarded with an invitation to Stoke Newington Police station to answer to anti-Semitic allegations made by anonymous persons on Twitter. I saw those tweets he sent and I know him, there was nothing untoward or anti-Semitic about his tweets, but thanks to the Met Police, these cowboys have been given Carte Blanche to do what th hell they want, and are answerable to no one.
One officer who patrols the area, has taken to Twitter out of frustration to address the situation on Dunsmure Road and Stamford Hill. Even they have lost control, it’s fallen on deaf ears. Maybe the Rabbi who issued an edict last year banning Haredi women from driving their children to school in Stamford Hill, could issue another edict on the atrocious driving and parking.
What do you think is the best way to deal with those commiting traffic / parking offences on Dunsmure Road?👮🚔👮
— PC James Higgins (@MPSStamfordHill) January 28, 2017
I’ve been out on the ward this evening. Traffic again on Dunsmure Road! Double parking in the middle of Dunsmure road needs to stop! 👮🏻🚔
— PC James Higgins (@MPSStamfordHill) November 17, 2016
Abandoning your vehicle in the middle of Dunsmure road to go shopping for 10 minutes is unacceptable! Drivers will be penalised if caught!
— PC James Higgins (@MPSStamfordHill) November 17, 2016
The formation of Shomrim, a local patrol service in 2008 added to peoples frustration and resentment. Although their presence was not initially welcomed by the Met Police, they appear to have wormed their way in and now work closely with local police. No doubt the over stretched force facing funding cuts, are only to happy to outsource their work. Listen, I won’t deny Shomrim has done some commendable work in their community which has resulted in numerous arrests and convictions, but at what cost and what other ethnic or religious group would be allowed to set up their own quasi police force?
Shomrim were nowhere to be seen the day the Black traffic warden was attacked and along with the usual rubber neck suspects, who never fail to breathlessly and excitedly tweet about every emergency incident in the area (I sometimes get the feeling they are little boys playing out their cops and robbers playground fantasy) were notably quiet on social media. They did however appear to go on the offensive. Within hours the Hackney Gazette did yet another fluff piece about Shomrim, while their supporters were frantically posting about their work and achievements.
By no means are residents frustrations limited to road safety. Total indifference to planning applications, cash only businesses hidden away in basements, illegal schools are rife in the community too. Still, they remain untouchable by Hackney Council and the police. A year ago I was approached by an angry anonymous member of the Orthodox Jewish community, although he professed to be an atheist (now that was a whole other interesting conversion) who was concerned about women who were being sexually assaulted and harassed by a conservative Councillor (another Haredi) who he claimed was assaulting and harassing women who attended his surgeries. Apparently the Councillor had a penchant for pregnant women (yes there is a fetish for everyone), but he didn’t limit his victims to expectant mums. I’m told if any of these women protested or if the Councillor was approached by men folk from the women’s family, he would threaten and smear the women with outrageous lies. Because of his position in their community, he had access to their phone numbers and would randomly call them.
As much as I wanted to go through with it, I was unable to because I couldn’t corroborate anything he told me, with any of the women. It was however backed up my an outspoken Rabbi in New York and a few other anonymous Twitter accounts. Speaking with the women was not an option which didn’t come as a surprise, reporting crimes committed by members of their group to the Police is forbidden. He told me: “This is a dangerous place for someone that does things which the rabbinate does not approve for as long as one is part of this community there’s too much to lose you won’t understand it unless your whole life is dependant [sic] on them including family, friends, kids work, house and everything else u [sic] can think of.”
Another message he sent read: “The only thing that can change this community is media exposure and awareness within reporting directly to police will result in exposing the victims eventually and they don’t want to risk it at this stage” [sic]. He was so petrified about being found out, that he wanted to read what I wrote before it was published, as he feared something I may say would give him away. I felt sorry for him, but after weeks of speaking and exchanging text messages, I decided against it due to lack of cooperation from the women involved.
I bring all this up to illustrate the relevance, not because I give a flying rats ass about their illegal schools or lack of education. I don’t care because it doesn’t have a direct impact on me. I care about being run over by one of them or colliding with one of their cars. I also care because the next time these thugs think of attacking and kidnapping an innocent Black person, there could be an eruption similar to the Crown Heights (New York) riot in 1992.