Officials of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York this week said they are withholding judgment on the outcome of a police investigation into a severe beating, allegedly committed by members of Williamsburg’s chasidic community, against a young black man earlier this month.
David Pollock, associate executive director of JCRC, said, “nobody should be jumping to conclusions” about the attack early on the morning of Dec. 1 of Taj Patterson, 22, a fashion student at the New York City College of Technology.
According to news reports, he was accosted by a group of chasidic men, and was treated at nearby Woodhull Hospital for a broken eye socket, a torn retina, bruises and blood clotting.
“Something happened,” said Pollock, who handles most police matters for JCRC. “It’s possible” that the assailants were chasidic. “In every community there are good people and there and bad people.”
The Hate Crimes Task Force of the New York Police Department is investigating the crime.
Patterson said the group of at least 20 men, who were dressed in chasidic clothing, approached him at about 4:30 a.m., near the corner of Flushing Avenue and Spencer Street, while he was walking back after a night of partying to his home in Fort Greene.
The men yelled anti-gay slurs at him, including “Stay down, f—–t,” according to news reports. “I’m walking down some block by myself and then the next thing I know I’m surrounded by a group of Chasidic men and they’re attacking me,”
“I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons,” Patterson told the Daily News.
According to the police report, Patterson was highly intoxicated and unable to immediately make a full statement.
The attack was stopped by a MTA bus driver who pulled over and stopped the beating.
“We called the driver a hero,” Pollock said. “She stopped the attack. She gave some sort of leads.”
A NYPD spokesman called the attack “most likely” a hate crime if the Hate Crimes Unit is investigating it. An investigation is underway, but there were witnesses to the beating while no arrests have been made, the spokesman said.
“We are horrified at the alleged assault on Taj Patterson,” said Michael Miller, JCRC executive vice president. “We urge … the Hate Crime Task Force … to follow the evidence wherever it may lead and that the perpetrators be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“Those who commit such heinous acts deserve to bear the full brunt of our criminal justice system,” Miller said.
Rabbi David Niederman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, said “We join with Council Member and Public Advocate Elect James who consistently stands with all communities denouncing violence and hate, creating unity in Brooklyn. We fully agree that there should be zero-tolerance for hate crimes, knockout games and the like. Violent behavior by anybody, against anybody, no matter who they are, for whatever reason, must cease immediately.”
The beating follows a spate of recent “knockout” attacks in recent weeks, many of them against identified Jews in several New York neighborhoods, including Williamsburg.