The Guardian Angels volunteer patrol has taken to the streets of Williamsburg following a report Sunday night that a chasidic man was punched in the face, the latest in a series of attacks suspected to be part of a “knockout game.”
An elderly woman was also reportedly attacked in East New York over the weekend.
Attacks around New York and in other parts of the country have involved young men punching strangers on the street in an attempt to knock them unconscious. Previous attacks happened in Crown Heights and Borough Park.
“I am disgusted to hear about two more sickening knockout attacks on innocent New Yorkers this weekend,” said Councilman David Greenfield of Brooklyn in a statement.
“These latest assaults have reaffirmed that this clearly is part of a disturbing trend targeting elderly and Jewish residents. We cannot tolerate a climate in which law-abiding citizens are afraid to walk down the street out of fear that they will be the next victim of these cowardly thugs.”
In the Williamsburg incident Eli Leidner, 26, said he was approached by a man and woman, described as black and in their early 20s and punched by the woman in the vicinity of Bedford and Clymer streets around 10:40 p.m., police said.
Leidner and others pursued the assailants, who ran off, and police quickly responded, but no one was apprehended at press time.
“He stood his ground,” said a Satmar community activist, Isaac Abraham. “The question is, if cameras were installed like all the politicians say they were, did they pick anything up?”
The attack was near a public housing facility on Bedford Avenue. Police were not disclosing whether any images of the incident were captured.
The police department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating.
In other American cities, the knockout victims have been non-Jewish whites. In New York, the victims of nine punching attacks reported so far appear to be Jewish, while the East New York incident involved a non-Jewish woman, identified as Emily Small.
At a press conference last Monday at the Crown Heights Youth Collective, several Brooklyn elected officials, including Eric Adams, the incoming borough president, condemned the attacks, and the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council offered a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of perpetrators.
Last Saturday (Nov. 23) Brooklyn resident Amrit Marajh was arraigned for an attack from the previous day in Borough Park. Police initially said Marajh was being charged with a hate crime but later told The New York Times he had been charged with assault, harassment and menacing.
Marajh, who apparently has a Jewish girlfriend and has never been arrested, denied the charges and was released on $750 bail.
Abraham said he believed it was only a matter of time before a “Bernie Goetz type of incident, referring to the New Yorker who in 1984 opened fire with an unlicernsed gun on a group of young men he said were trying to mug him on the subway. In such a case, Abraham said, “there would be a national outcry.”
In a joint statement, Councilman Steven Levin of Williamsburg thanked the local 90th Precinct and the Shomrim for investigating the incident, and Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg said, “This is a peace-loving community and one that will stand together to make sure the perpetrators of this act are apprehended and brought to justice. Thank you to the NYPD and Shomrim for their tireless work and being great partners in protecting our communities.”