Reports indicate that a gang of Orthodox Jewish men beat a Black man in Brooklyn while yelling anti-gay slurs.
The alleged victim is 22-year-old Taj Patterson, a fashion student at the New York City College of Technology. Patterson claims that on Dec. 1, a group of nearly a dozen Orthodox Jewish men on neighborhood watch assaulted him on Flushing Avenue and Spencer Street.
Patterson said that the men had on uniform jackets and kicked and punched him while saying, “Stay down, f—t.” Patterson’s injuries include a broken eye socket, a torn retina, blood clotting and cuts and bruises to his knees and ankles.
“I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m Black. I’m gay. A whole slew of reasons,” Patterson said in one report. “[They] came up behind me, they grabbed me, they punched me in the face, kicked me down, knocked me out.”
An MTA bus driver saw the incident and pulled over to intervene. Patterson was treated at Woodhull Medical Center. Police reports indicate he was intoxicated at the time of the incident. No arrests have been made, but police are investigating.
“He was on a bus, and there may have been some sort of commotion on the bus. It’s reported that a group with some sort of uniform jackets with a logo on it may have been involved, so obviously the investigation is going forward,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference.
The incident is raising questions about safety and violence in the neighborhood, again putting a spotlight on racial tensions between Blacks and Jews in Brooklyn. With news about Jews being alleged victims of the “knockout game” at the hands of Blacks, violence overall is being denounced.
On Sunday, several politicians and community leaders held a press conference in Brooklyn condemning violent crimes against both Blacks and Jews. Those in attendance included Public Advocate-elect Letitia James, City Councilman Jumaane Williams, Brooklyn District Attorney-elect Ken Thompson and Borough President-elect Eric Adams.
“I’m standing here today with a diverse coalition of elected officials and community leaders who have joined me to call for an end to these ongoing random acts of violence,” said James. “Just as the knockout attacks perpetrated against innocent New Yorkers—and perhaps one group of people—were and are unacceptable, the attack against Taj Patterson is equally unacceptable.”
While Assemblyman Dov Hikind was at the press conference and spoke out against the violence, in several statements, he’s claimed that what Patterson is alleging is “out of character” for Orthodox Jews and said the situation was “bizarre.”
“We may look different, we may wear different clothing, but at the end of the day, we are New Yorkers who care for the city, and we care about violence perpetrated against innocent people. We stand as one. We will not tolerate any kind of hate or violence regardless of where it comes from,” he said. “It is unacceptable, and we will always stand together, and we hope that those who’re responsible for the violence created in these city will be reprehended, and we will throw the book at them.”