NEW YORK- Hundreds of protesters stormed the streets and set garbage cans on fire in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, claiming police shoved a 75-year-old man and threw him headfirst into a van during a traffic stop.
Police denied mistreating the man, Arthur Schick, and officers in riot gear fanned out to clear the crowd Tuesday. Dozens of young Orthodox Jews in traditional black suits and hats gathered on street corners.
Sariel Widawsky, co-owner of a bakery Schick's mother once owned, said he saw the traffic stop through the front window of his store.
"They pushed Arthur against the car and physically manhandled him in a way unbefitting such a well-respected and liked member of the community," Widawsky said. "He shouldn't be treated like that."
Schick was pulled over for talking on his cell phone while driving around 6:30 p.m., police said. He resisted the officers during the stop and was arrested along with two other people who meddled in the incident, police said.
Yossi Baumann, a bakery shipping manager who was on the sidewalk wrapping a pallet, said police called for backup after Schick resisted their handcuffs. He said four officers picked Schick up horizontally and hurled him into a van.
Other witnesses and friends said it's possible Schick, a caterer of weddings and bat mitzvahs, didn't hear instructions from the officers because he uses a hearing aid.
Schick's wife, reached by telephone at home around midnight, said her husband was asleep and declined comment.
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The incident happened on one of the busiest shopping days before Passover, the weeklong Jewish commemoration of the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.