WESTPORT, Conn. -- The Anti-Defamation League is commending the work of the Westport Police Department and the staff of Temple Israel of Westport for their action in response to two intruders at the synagogue earlier this week.
On Tuesday, two men attempted to force their way into the temple to protest a women’s luncheon to benefit the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
After reportedly ignoring requests from Temple Israel staff to leave, the men were subdued by staff members and 911 was called. Westport police arrived in minutes and arrested the intruders.
Coleytown Middle School, Coleytown Elementary School, the preschool at the Unitarian Church and the Temple Israel nursery were placed on lockdown during the initial police response . Weston police also responded to the scene.
"While we recognize the intruders’ right to protest, we are particularly concerned with the impact that the intruders’ actions have had on the Westport Jewish community,” said Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, ADL Connecticut interim regional director. “There are a number of ways in which they could have protested that would not have caused the community to worry about its safety.
"ADL supports Israel’s right to exist as a democratic Jewish state, but neither our stance nor the intruders’ stance on Israel is the key issue. Rather, of utmost importance is that protests do not make communities feel threatened, marginalized or unsafe.
"We are grateful to the Westport Police Department for their sense of urgency, their professionalism and for the seriousness with which they take their responsibility to protect the Jewish community and all other religious communities and schools in town," she said.
Daniel Fischer, 25, and Gregory Williams, 25, both of New Haven, were arrested. Each was charged with first-degree criminal trespass and second-degree breach of peace.
"We would also like to recognize the staff at Temple Israel, who have spent dozens of hours working with the Westport police on how to properly respond to a security threat," Lipshez-Shapiro said. "By all accounts, they acted seamlessly in an effort to safeguard the women at the luncheon, the children in the synagogue’s preschool and all others in the area."
Read more about the police response to the incident here on the Daily Voice.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.