The 71st Precinct in Brooklyn is investigating an attack early Saturday morning on a chasidic Jew in the Crown Heights neighborhood.
The Police Department public information unit said the 71st Precinct had received a complaint about the attack, but has not yet determined that attack was an anti-Semitic hate crime.
The police are treating the attack as a “possible” bias incident until the investigation is complete, said David Pollock, associate executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
According to a spokesman for the Crown Heights Shomrim neighborhood patrol association, a witness to the attack said the victim, a 42-year-old man from out of town who was in Crown Heights for Shabbat, was attacked by a group of three men and two women at 3:30 a.m. a block from the international headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch chasidic movement on Eastern Parkway. Another chasidic Jew who was walking with the man was not attacked, the Shomrim representative said. “They were clearly Jewish.”
The “unprompted” nature of the attack committed by African-Americans, in which no weapons were used and no anti-Semitic statements were reported, made the nature of the crime a likely hate crime, the Shomrim spokesman said. The assailants reportedly asked the victim, “Do you want to fight?” then began punching and kicking him.
“There’s no other motive,” said Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council. “We’re hoping this was a one-off thing.”
“The police are taking this very seriously. They have added patrols to assure the community,” Pollock said.
The victim, treated for lacerations by Hatzalah, then at a local hospital, filed a report with the New York Police Department on Saturday night after Shabbat ended.
Friday’s attack came a week after the fatal shooting in Crown Heights by police of an African-American man who wielded a welding tool that appeared to be a gun, heightening tensions in the neighborhood.