Main | Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BROOKLYN: Five Ultra-Orthodox Jews Arrested In Gang Assault Of Gay Man

Five Hasidic men were arrested in Brooklyn today for the December gang beating a gay fashion student. At least two of the men charged belong to a controversial Ultra-Orthodox street patrol group.
Taj Patterson, 22, has said he was headed to his Fort Greene home after a night of partying last December when over a dozen ultra-Orthodox men assaulted him on Flushing Ave. in Williamsburg while shouting anti-gay epithets. Aharon Hollender, 28, Abraham Winkler, 39, Mayer Herskovic, 21, Pinchas Braver, 19, and Joseph Fried, 25, were charged with gang assault and other counts, but not with any hate crimes, authorities said Wednesday. “We simply cannot allow anyone walking on the streets of Brooklyn to be knocked to the ground, stomped and brutally beaten,” said Brooklyn district attorney Kenneth Thompson. The group, at least two of whom belonged to a volunteer patrol called Shomrim, were looking for someone who vandalized cars in the area and stopped Patterson, prosecutors said. Even though the vandalism report was unfounded, they allegedly started pummeling the victim, authorities said.
The victim suffered a broken eye socket, a torn retina, and numerous cuts and bruises. It's not clear why hate crimes charges have not yet been made. The alleged attackers have been released on bail and face up to 25 years in prison.

RELATED: The Shomrim and a splinter group, the Shmira, are "public safety" groups that aggressively patrol the Hasidic neighborhoods of Brooklyn with a fleet of official looking vehicles, some of which resemble NYPD patrol cars. Members of both groups, who reportedly hate each other, have been charged with assaulting black residents of Brooklyn. One of the Shomrim members arrested today was also arrested in 2012 for taking courtroom photographs of a child molestation victim in order to intimidate her as she testified against a Hasidic leader. Her attacker, who was later sentenced to 103 years in prison, sat on his sect's "modesty committee," which enforces strict rules of dress and behavior for female members.

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