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Hasidic Gang Allegedly Attacks Black Student

NYPD investigating assault on 22-year-old Taj Patterson as a hate crime

Rachel Silberstein
December 11, 2013

A group of Hasidic men allegedly attacked a 22-year-old black man in Williamsburg on December 1, leaving him with a broken eye socket and torn retina, the New York Daily News reports.

Taj Patterson, a fashion student, said he was walking home from a party around 4:30 a.m. when a group of men ambushed him, assaulting him while shouting anti-gay slurs.

“The next thing I know, I’m surrounded by a group of Hasidic Jewish men and they’re attacking me,” Patterson told the Daily News, “I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons.”

MTA bus driver Evelyn Keys saw the attack while driving and intervened, rushing Patterson to a nearby hospital. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

The assault on Patterson occurred in the midst of the alarming spate of so-called “knockout” attacks in Brooklyn, at least 10 of which have targeted visibly identifiable Orthodox Jews, including a 78-year-old woman and, most recently, a 26-year-old man on December 2, one day after Patterson was attacked.

City Council member Stephen Levin, who previously condemned the knockout attacks, issued a statement responding to the assault on Patterson:

I am thoroughly shocked and deeply troubled by this appalling attack. Acts like this have no place in our society and our community will not tolerate them. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is currently investigating this crime and I have full faith and confidence that they will pursue every possible lead to ensure that justice is done and I will everything I can to assist them.

Rev. Al Sharpton called for a universal condemnation of attacks on Jews in Tablet earlier this week, and in Patterson’s case his words still ring true:

Whenever a group of people who have been historically singled out and attacked feel threatened and seem to be the predominant target of hatred once again, we cannot simply brush it off…And that is enough of a pattern for progressives from all communities to take a stand, push back against this madness, and remain united in our resolve to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Rachel Silberstein is a writer living in New York.