I visited an ultra-orthodox Jewish village, was deemed suspicious, asked for ID, and handcuffed by police. In New York. AMA
TL;DR: click the Flickr and YouTube links.
A couple months ago I read an article in the New York Times about Kiryas Joel. KJ, as they call it, is a settlement of ultra-orthodox Jews known as Satmar Hasidim, 50 miles north of New York City. I suggested to some hiking friends that we could visit the town by taking a train from NYC and walking to the town. Last Sunday, we went.
At the village border we saw a new-looking sign advising visitors to cover themselves and "maintain gender separation." We did the best we could given that we had walked five miles in 88 degree heat--the one female in our group had brought a long-sleeved shirt just in case, and she put it on before passing the sign.
We walked along a couple of main roads in the town. I took pictures of a few things, like an air-conditioned bus stop.
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.
We walk a short while more to the local cafe where we had planned to have lunch. Before we had time to order food, a New York State Police officer appears and tells us to come outside. We do, and I start recording video. If you don't have the patience to watch, the NYSP demands ID, handcuffs two of us who don't provide it, saying we are under arrest for obstructing government administration, and tell me that if I want to complain about Moses' grabbing me that I need to do it at the village mayor's office.
A few days later, our story made the local 6 o'clock news. We also found out there is a federal lawsuit against Kiryas Joel that specifically names Moses Witriol, the public safety director who confronted us, for misusing his authority against the local people.