The discovery of secret tunnels that were illegally constructed and used by young Orthodox Jewish men underneath the Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, led to multiple arrests Monday after a group of young Orthodox Jewish men “unlawfully entered” the building and engaged in a protest to prevent construction workers from filling the tunnels.
A New York Police Department spokesman told the Daily Mail, “On Monday, January 8, 2024, at approximately 1530 hours, police responded to 911 calls of a disorderly group outside of 770 Eastern Parkway, within the confines of the 71 Precinct. Upon arrival, officers were informed that a group of individuals unlawfully entered 770 Eastern Parkway by damaging a wall.”
The spokesperson told Daily Mail that a “number of individuals” were arrested as a result of the disorderly conduct and that charges for the individuals were pending. Additionally, the spokesperson confirmed that no injuries were reported from the incident.
RAWSALERTS shared video footage of Monday’s incident, describing it as a “riot” caused by individuals attempting to “prevent a cement truck from sealing off the recently discovered tunnels.”
“The underground tunnels, secretly built by a group, including members of the Jewish community, about 6 months ago in an attempt to expand the iconic synagogue, were the focal point,” RAWSALERTS stated. “Despite police intervention, numerous people refused to vacate the tunnels, leading to the arrest of at least ten individuals after a scuffle with the NYPD inside 770.”
Forward.com reported that the building, which was the former home of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, has been fought over by synagogue leadership and the Chabad-Lubavitch movement for multiple years. According to the Daily Mail, the secret underground tunnels were first discovered in December.
In response to Monday’s protest, Rabbi Motti Seligson, a Chabad-Lubavitcher movement spokesperson, released a statement on X, saying, “Some time ago, a group of extremist students, broke through a few walls in adjacent properties to the synagogue at 784-788 Eastern Parkway, to provide them unauthorized access. Earlier today, a cement truck was brought in to repair those walls. Those efforts were disrupted by the extremists who broke through the wall to the synagogue, vandalizing the sanctuary, in an effort to preserve their unauthorized access.”
Seligson noted that the building has been closed until a structural safety review can be completed.