A young black man was allegedly assaulted by Hassidic men last week as he walked alone through the neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, late at night.
Taj Patterson, a 22-year-old fashion student at the New York City College of Technology, was walking home at 4:30 a.m. on December 1 when he says he was attacked by “15 to 20″ Hassidic men, NBC News and the New York Daily News reported.
“I’m walking down some block by myself and then the next thing I know, I’m surrounded by a group of Hasidic Jewish men and they’re attacking me,” Patterson said. “I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay. A whole slew of reasons.”
Patterson sustained severe injuries from the attack, including a broken eye socket, a torn retina, blood clotting, and cuts and bruises to his knee and ankles, the Daily News reported. He was expected to undergo surgery to reattach his retina.
One witness, bus driver Evelyn Keys, who was driving by while the attack was underway, said she saw “all these men were standing up straight around him. Taj is laying down on his back. I went up to him and he was in so much pain. He says, ‘I can’t see… I can’t breathe.’ ”
According to Patterson, a leader of the attackers kicked him in the face and yelled anti-gay slurs.
Haredi news website Vos Iz Neias reported that police could not confirm that the attackers were Hassidic, and said the case was “still in the investigative stages.” But the case was being investigated as a hate crime, police said.
A police complaint said Patterson was “highly intoxicated, uncooperative and incoherent” immediately after the attack and could not file his complaint at the time.
Tensions have been running high in recent weeks between black and Jewish communities in Brooklyn over allegations of “knockout” attacks carried out by young black men against Jews in Brooklyn neighborhoods.