The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the alleged beating of a 22-year-old fashion student at the hands of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mob. Taj Patterson, 22, was walking home from a party through the predominantly ultra-Orthodox section of South Williamsburg when he says a group of at least twenty Jewish men attacked him. Patterson says that during the beating, the men yelled anti-gay slurs, including, "Stay down, f----t!”
"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 tells the Daily News. “I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons." The assault occurred in the wake of a number of seemingly unprovoked assaults on Jews in Brooklyn. In November, hate crime charges were filed against a suspect who allegedly attacked a Jewish man in Borough Park without provocation.
In an interview with NBC New York, Patterson said his assailants "came up behind me, they grabbed me, they punched me in the face, kicked me down, knocked me out." The assault, which occurred on Flushing Avenue near Spencer Street, was stopped by an MTA bus driver who pulled over and intervened. "I get out of the bus and all these men were standing up straight around him,” bus driver Evelyn Keys tells the News. "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."
Patterson, a student at the New York City College of Technology, was taken to Woodhull Hospital, where he was treated for a broken eye socket, a torn retina, bruises and blood clotting. No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing. (According to the police report, Patterson was highly intoxicated, and the Post reports that he couldn't make a coherent statement that morning.)
Assemblymen Dov Hikind, who has repeatedly condemned the so-called "knockout game" attacks on his Jewish constituents, concedes that "something obviously happened" to Patterson, but tells NBC New York the assault "sounds so out of character" for ultra-Orthodox Jews.