Two yeshiva students from Israel were arrested on hate crime charges after allegedly beating a black man who was walking his dog in Crown Heights around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday. Police say Samuel Brendler, 21, and Ahrone Koskase, 22, approached their victim near the intersection of Albany Avenue and Montgomery Street, where one of the suspects allegedly asked Dieuphene Hyppolite, 56, "how does he like his wife."
When Hyppolite, who is black, told the men to leave him alone, they allegedly insulted him with racial slurs, threw garbage cans at him; beat him in the face, arms and legs; and tried (unsuccessfully) to steal his dog. Hyppolite sustained lacerations to his knees and elbow, and received medical attention at the stationhouse.
CrownHeights.info reports that both suspects, who are white, are Israeli citizens living in Brooklyn to attend Chabad yeshiva, and that "they were heavily intoxicated and making quite a ruckus." Both men were charged with assault in the second degree as a hate crime, menacing in the second degree as a hate crime, and criminal possession of a weapon. Multiple outlets also report that Hyppolite is a volunteer part-time auxiliary police officer for the 71st Precinct.
"All of a sudden I heard, they throw a garbage can at him," Hyppolite's wife Monita tells ABC 7. "He has to block it with his arm. He has the scratch on his arm, and his two fingers are swollen. He has high blood pressure; we had to take him to the hospital. I never have any problems here been living here for over 30 years. Never had that. I feel terrible because he can get killed by them."
Failed Messiah notes that intoxicated students attending Chabad yeshiva have been involved in altercations in the neighborhood in the past:
In a similar incident the week before, a Chabad yeshiva student was reportedly arrested on Shabbat for public intoxication after he had what Crown Heights dot info called “a heated exchange between him and two police officers on patrol.”
Chabad has a widespread problem with alcohol abuse, and it is not unusual to find 14- and 15-year-old Chabad yeshiva students who are already heavy drinkers.
Chabad uses vodka - called “mashka” in Chabad parlance - to induce openness to religious teachings and to foster bonding to the organization. It is given a special place in Chabad’s religious doctrine, and is used extensively during formal and informal Chabad hasidic religious gatherings called farbrengens, although during farbrengens that are advertised and to which the general public is invited to attend, alcohol use is generally limited.
But during the frequent, mostly closed farbrengens inside Chabad yeshivas, and during the informal farbrengens individual Chabad followers host, alcohol use and abuse is widespread.
The alleged assault occured days before Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson announced the creation of a new Hate Crimes Unit and a "revamped" Civil Rights Bureau. “Brooklyn is a great and diverse place to live, work or visit, and where the civil rights and dignity of all must be respected," DA Thompson said in a statement. "The Hate Crimes Unit will proactively investigate and prosecute crimes committed based on a belief or perception about a victim’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation."