After reading a NY Times story on Kiryas Joel, the Orange County town that's home base for the Ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic Jews, a few non-Orthodox friends from Manhattan decided to pay the town a visit. Earlier this month they took a train to the nearest station and hiked five miles to the town, where they started snapping photos of some of the sights and attractions—like the air-conditioned bus stop! But it seems the locals don't take to kindly to Goy outsiders, and soon enough a private security force pulled up demanding identification. On Reddit, John Zwinck, a software engineer who lives in midtown Manhattan, describes how the situation quickly escalated:
After a few minutes, a black Suburban rolls up in front of us. Two guys get out. One of them never speaks, but has a shirt that says Public Safety. The other is wearing traditional orthodox clothes: black pants, white shirt, black vest, and a yarmulke. We later learn his name is Moses. He immediately demands identification from all of us. I ask him why, and he says that he got a call for suspicious activity. I tell him we are just visiting on foot, and that we haven't taken any pictures of people. I tell my friends that I don't think they have to provide ID unless they want to. Moses says if we don't provide ID he will arrest us. I see this as ridiculous, and start walking again.
A few moments later, someone grabs me from behind. I turn around, and Moses is holding my arm. I yell "assault, assault" just in case it's not clear to the few bystanders that it's not consensual. Moses eventually lets me go, and again I continue on my way, and my friends come along.
But when they arrived at a local cafe to get some lunch, a State Trooper stopped them. Here's video of the incident, which ended with two hikers getting arrested for refusing to show their identification:
As you can see by the video, the officer tells them their being arrested for obstructing government administration, and explains that the "public safety director," Moses Witriol, had the right to forcibly detain Zwinck when he refused to show I.D. In the end, no charges were filed, but Zwinck did some digging and found that a federal lawsuit has been filed against Kiryas Joel, and specifically names Moses Witriol. The lawsuit [pdf] claims that "the affairs of its government are inherently infused by, and entangled, with religion such that its very existence as a municipality violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."