A Jewish man is in custody after video showed him and a mob of fellow Brooklynites swarm an NYPD traffic enforcement agent, then harass and taunt the man as he tried to tow away their friend’s car.
Yisroel Friedland was arrested Monday, Jan. 14, and charged with obstructing government administration after authorities said he hopped into a friend’s minivan and sped off as the tow driver attempted to hitch it, causing damage to the truck.
Friedland was also slapped with a felony criminal mischief charge, an NYPD official told Atlanta Black Star.
In video from the Jan. 10 incident, several men swarm the area outside 1501 44th St. in Borough Park, where an NYPD tow truck was called to remove a brown minivan that was illegally parked there.
News 12 Brooklyn reported that city records also show a laundry list of parking violations for the vehicle’s license plate that amount to over $1,000.
The men, who local residents said are members of the Shomrim, or a Jewish community watch group, are seen ripping the minivan from the hitch. That’s when Friedland jumped into action.
“Before the tow driver could raise the vehicle so the motorist couldn’t leave the scene, people from the community … got in the car and drove off,” Marvin Robbins, first vice president the union representing the city’s tow drivers, told the New York Post.
The men tried their darnedest to stop the tow from happening and banded together to help Freidland, who isn’t the even the minivan’s owner, escape. At one point, the men shout and honk at a black SUV that was blocking the van to move out of the way.
“That allowed [the minivan] to escape,” Robbins added.
NYPD spokesman Lt. John Grimpel called the attack on the tow trick driver simply unacceptable.
“This is disgusting behavior against an agent who was doing his job to keep New Yorkers safe while exhibiting restraint and professionalism,” Grimpel said in a statement. “We will not tolerate our traffic agents being subject to abuse in any form, not the least of which is the ugly example we see in this video.”
Shomrims have gained a reputation for being bullies, however, as their watchdog tactics often blur the lines between themselves and the role of actual law enforcement personnel.
In the towing case, a complaint was filed with the 66th Precinct and resulted in Friedland’s arrest Monday.
Robbins commended the traffic agent, who has over 20 years of experience has a tow driver, for remaining calm and said he was back at work the very next day.