By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com April 23 2014 5:58 PM ET
Five men were arrested today in connection with an assault on a gay black man in Brooklyn, N.Y., last December, the New York Daily News reports.
Taj Patterson, a 22-year-old fashion student, had left a party in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and was on his way home when he encountered a group of at least a dozen men who attacked him while shouting antigay slurs, such as “Stay down, faggot.” Reportedly, several of the men were members of a Hasidic Jewish sect, an ultra-Orthodox branch of Judaism.
“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 told the Daily News in December. “I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons.”
At least two of the men belonged to a volunteer neighborhood patrol that was checking on reports of vandalism to cars in the area, so they stopped Patterson to question him, according to the Daily News. “Even though the vandalism report was unfounded, they allegedly started pummeling the victim,” the paper reports. The attack left Patterson with a broken eye socket, a torn retina, blood clots, and cuts and bruises to his knee and ankles.
Those arrested were Aharon Hollender, 28; Abraham Winkler, 39; Mayer Herskovic, 21; Pinchas Braver, 19; and Joseph Fried, 25, the Daily News reports. They were charged with gang assault and other offenses but not with hate crimes, although the police originally investigated the assault as a possible hate crime. They were arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court this afternoon and released on bail, and they face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Fried, who works for the newspaper of the Satmar Hasidic sect, has been arrested previously, after having taken a photo of a sex abuse victim testifying in a courtroom in November 2012, according to the Daily News. A charge of criminal contempt stemming from that incident remains pending.