Lawsuit: Cleveland suburb harassed Orthodox Jew for searching for at-home prayer assembly

An Orthodox Jewish house owner has sued an Ohio metropolis authorities, alleging its mayor tried to dam in-home prayer conferences by siccing personal investigators on him.

Daniel Grand, who lives within the Cleveland suburb of College Heights, filed the lawsuit Sept. 8 within the U.S. District Court docket for the Northern District of Ohio.

The lawsuit alleges that College Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan despatched an unconstitutional cease-and-desist order to Mr. Grand to halt a deliberate 10-person prayer assembly of Orthodox Jews referred to as a “minyan.”

In keeping with the lawsuit, the mayor additionally mentioned Mr. Grand must receive a particular use allow for the gathering, regardless of a metropolis rule that such permits are solely issued to properties of at the very least 3 acres. Mr. Grand utilized for a allow, however 100 metropolis residents, most of whom weren’t adjoining owners, protested his plan at a public listening to.

Mr. Grand withdrew the appliance after his lawyer on the time mentioned it was unconstitutional to require permits for personal prayer conferences.

The lawsuit additionally alleges town tried to intimidate Mr. Grand by hiring personal investigators to “sit exterior the house of an Orthodox Jewish household to spy on Orthodox Jewish residents and to realize details about Orthodox Jews praying in residential properties on one of many holiest days of the 12 months.” That incident allegedly passed off on Sept. 7, 2021, the day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new 12 months.

Mr. Grand “credibly feared that the person was a bodily menace to him and to the opposite Orthodox Jews gathering to wish” due to different assaults on Jews and synagogues in recent times, the lawsuit notes.

In keeping with the lawsuit, a metropolis police lieutenant, Mark McArtor emailed uniformed officers to “please make frequent drive-bys” at Mr. Grand’s house for parking violations.

Mr. McArtor, who retired in April 2022, informed officers to “remember, there’s an excessive amount of competition between this tackle and the encompassing neighbors for the reason that 2343 [Miramar] resident utilized to the Planning Fee for approval to function a Schul [sic],” misspelling the Yiddish phrase “shul,” which implies “synagogue.”

The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Brennan and the police division additionally seen “surveillance movies” of the Grand household taken by Jeffrey Porter, a retired police officer whose house abuts the Grands’ property and who is known as as a defendant within the lawsuit.

“Porter acted with impunity primarily based on path from Brennan to surveil Plaintiff and assurances from Brennan that, because the mayor, he would defend Porter from any penalties,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit additionally says town skipped rubbish collections at Mr. Grand’s house as a type of harassment, requiring him to position cans on the curb when his neighbors weren’t required to take action.

Mr. Grand’s lawsuit alleges town is singling out Orthodox Jews for harassment, whereas permitting others to have presumably “illicit” gatherings that additionally violate zoning rules.

In an interview, Mr. Grand mentioned a neighbor commonly has “home events of 30, 40, [or] 50 individuals” with out police intervention or town requiring a allow. He mentioned that college students from John Carroll College, a Jesuit college close to his house, additionally park “in all places” for events.

A reporter for The Washington Instances contacted Mr. Brennan for touch upon the lawsuit. The mayor mentioned that he wouldn’t reply questions and that town “will likely be talking by means of our court docket pleadings and in open court docket. I’ve no additional remark.”

When the reporter tried to ask a query, Mr. Brennan replied, “I’m going to conclude this telephone name now. We’ll ship you an electronic mail of our assertion,” earlier than hanging up. Shortly after, an electronic mail from Mike Prepare dinner, town’s communications and civic engagement director, repeated Mr. Brennan’s phrases.

Makes an attempt to contact Mr. Porter and Mr. McArtor weren’t profitable.

Town has 60 days to file a movement to dismiss the lawsuit or a solution to the lawsuit’s claims, mentioned lawyer Jonathan Gross, who’s representing Mr. Grand. No listening to date has been scheduled, he added.

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