The Lawfare Project announced on Monday that it has been retained as co-counsel in a lawsuit against both the city of Ann Arbor, Mich., and a group of anti-Israel protesters who demonstrate weekly outside a local synagogue.
“The City of Ann Arbor has completely abdicated its responsibility to protect the Jewish community from targeted, racist harassment at the hands of these protesters,” said Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project. “There are few greater civil-rights violations than impeding the free exercise of worship and assembly, and we are here to demand the city hold the protesters accountable under existing federal, state and local laws.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Beth Israel Congregation member Marvin Gerber and Ann Arbor resident Miriam Brysk, a Holocaust survivor. Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, protester Henry Herskovitz and his two organizations—Jewish Witnesses for Peace, and Palestinian Friends and Deir Yassin Remembered—are listed as defendants.
Every Saturday for the last 16 years, a group of protesters has harassed congregants outside of Beth Israel Congregation and placed in front of the synagogue signs that say “Jewish Power Corrupts,” “Zionism is Racism” and “RESIST Jewish Power,” among other statements.
The protesters are in violation of the city’s existing ordinances; however, Ann Arbor has done nothing to limit the protests and refuses to place “even modest restrictions” on them. This has gone on for more than a decade-and-a-half, according to Michigan attorney Marc Susselman, co-counsel in the lawsuit.
Ziporah Reich, director of litigation at the Lawfare Project and co-counsel in the lawsuit, said the suit is aimed at preventing the protesters, “aided and abetted by the city,” from violating the First Amendment rights congregants have to exercise their religion without harassment.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified retribution for emotional distress, JNS previously reported.