A black fashion student says he was attacked by a gang of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in Williamsburg, NY. He insists they shouted anti-gay slurs at him as he was heading home after a night of partying.
Taj Patterson, 22, was headed home around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 1 when he says more than a dozen of Hasidic men, "uniformed in religious garb," began assaulting him and yelling, “Stay down, f*****!”
“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 New York Daily News. “I was alone. I was an easy target. I’m black. I’m gay, a whole slew of reasons.”
Patterson, a student at the New York City College of Technology, ended up with a broken eye socket, a torn retina, blood clotting, and cuts and bruises to his knee and ankles.
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He was rushed to Woodhull Hospital and is now expected to undergo surgery to reattach his retina.
Patterson’s mother, Zahra Patterson, told NBC 4 New York that if it wasn’t for someone stopping the brutal attack, her son would have been left dead.
The NYPD confirmed Monday night that they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
While Patterson had been drinking that night and it took several days to piece together evidence, according to the police complaint, he does remember the leader of the mob.
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“There was a crowd around him, cheering him on and getting him rowdy, and he would grab me and push me against the wall,” Patterson said.
As the leader repeatedly kicked him in the face, Patterson says, “he told me to ‘stay down, f*****, stay the f*** down.”
Evelyn Keys, an MTA bus driver, was coming around the corner when she saw the attack.
“I get out of the bus and all these men were standing up straight around him,” Keys said. “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’s mother, Zahra Patterson, 52, said she now fears for her son’s safety.
“I mean, we’ve been living in this community for close to 30 years, so you’re telling me my son can’t walk there anymore?” she said. “You cannot attack people walking down the street.”
Patterson says he has no idea why he was attacked but wants justice.
“Maybe the way I dressed, I was on the block,” he said. “I want these people to know they can’t put their hands on anyone and get away with it, and think just because you have on certain attire you can get away with certain things. We’re all equal here.”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is an advocate for Hasidic Jews and represents the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, says the allegation sounds “so out of character,” according to NBC New York.
Sources: NBC 4 New York, New York Daily News