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Vegans Renege On Threat To Assault Orthodox Jews

REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

A group of vegans protesting an ancient Jewish ceremony retracted their threat Thursday to conduct citizens’ arrests on Jews performing the ritual chicken slaughter.

The Animal Protection and Rescue League, led by Brian Pease, filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in an attempt to outlaw the Jewish practice of Kaporos,  according to a press release from First Liberty Institute. Kaporos, which is legal, is a religious rite done in preparation for Yom Kippur and involves the kosher slaughter of a chicken as a symbolic contemplation of atonement and mortality. The lawsuit, APRL v. The City of Los Angeles, not only alleges that the practice is inhumane but requests that the police allow members of the APRL to arrest Orthodox Jews who practice Kaporos.

“Plaintiffs desire to exercise their rights under Penal Code §837 to effectuate a private person arrest of agents of the entities killing and discarding animals illegally in their presence. However, every year, Defendants send large forces out to actively protect these criminal acts,” the lawsuit reads, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

The practice of Kaporos, however, is not illegal, meaning that any private person arrest made against someone for engaging in the ritual would be unlawful.

“When we read this we obviously were concerned about the safety of our clients and we wanted to make sure that they were protected, because these Orthodox Jewish synagogues and other organizations have been exposed to physical violence and harassment in the past by Kaporos protesters, and we wanted to make sure that they’re not going to actually assault them during this week, during their holy days,” Stephanie Taub of First Liberty told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

APRL’s request to arrest Orthodox Jews for their religious practices amounts to a threat of assault, according to Taub.

“Yes actually, if you look at their complaint, what they say is that they are looking for the police to allow them to make a private person’s arrest of Orthodox Jews, who are performing a millennia old ceremony,” Taub told TheDCNF. “And they acknowledge in their complaint that if they’re wrong about the law, then this is an assault and a false arrest.”

Pease, leader of APRL and the group’s attorney, said in an email to the Free Beacon that the threat of arrest was merely a legal tactic and that his group never intended to perform arrests on Orthodox Jews.

“Nobody is planning to physically interfere with the ritual,” Pease said in the email. “The private persons arrest concept is a way that police can be required to cite someone for violating the statute. Our clients’ right to initiate such a process, but the apparent belief by LAPD that these acts are either not illegal or somehow protected, is the basis for our attempt to gain standing in the new lawsuit.”

Taub told TheDCNF that First Liberty called opposing council and informed them that they would file a temporary restraining order against APRL on behalf of Kaporos practitioners. APRL’s council, however, said the group would not perform any private persons’ arrests during the practice of Kaporos. First Liberty will continue to monitor the situation, however, in light of the fact that past Kaporos protesters have committed acts of violence toward Jews in the past, according to Taub.

“For instance, somebody was holding Kaporos at their home, and the protesters barged into their property without permission, into their house, into children’s bedrooms without permission, were yelling at their children and frightening them,” Taub told TheDCNF. “I believe that there was an arrest that took place.”

“These activists are abusing the judicial system,” Taub told TheDCNF. “They are harassing Orthodox Jewish communities simply because they do not agree with their religious beliefs, and the First Amendment protects the rights to exercise your religious beliefs without fear of arrest.”

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