Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

New York Gay Man Attacked by Hasidic Jewish Safety Patrol Members; Five Arrested So Far

Taj Patterson, 22, gay man savagely attacked by Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, NY shouting anti-gay slurs (NY Post images).

Taj Patterson, 22, gay man savagely attacked by Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, NY shouting anti-gay slurs (NY Post images).

Williamsburg, New York – A gang of Hasidic Jews, some identified as members of the Satmar Hasidic Shomrim (Safety Patrol), shouted homophobic  and racial slurs as they brutally beat a gay black man in Williamsburg on December 1.  The victim, 22-year-old Taj Patterson, suffered multiple injuries including a crushed eye socket, a torn retina, and cuts to his right knee and hip.  This week, five hasidim were arrested for the attack by the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.  They have been charged with Gang Assault in the First Degree and a variety of other charges, though at this point a hate crimes charge has not been lodged, even considering the report of witnesses that a barrage of homophobic slurs accompanied the assault.  The charges carry a maximum sentence of 25 years for each assailant proved guilty.  Failed Messiah, a blog covering news in the Hasidic community since 2004, identified those arrested as  Pinchas Braver, 20, Aharon Hollender, 28, Abraham Winkler, 39, Mayer Herskovic, 21, and Joseph Fried, 25. Two of the alleged assailants fled from the United States to Israel immediately following the incident, but were apprehended there.

The five suspects and a number of other hasidim who allegedly participated in the attack are all members of the Satmar Hasidic Jewish community, a large and influential ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect with pre-World War II roots in Hungary.  According to A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, the Satmar Hasidim number at least 45,000 in Williamsburg today.  The Shomrim is a volunteer neighborhood watch drawn from the Satmar community.  Activists in Williamsburg quickly denied the involvement of the Shomrim in the attack, but according to the Brooklyn Paper, the denials left room to conclude that some of the attackers were indeed members of the watch group.  An Orthodox rabbi who decried the attack did not mention the  participation of the Shomrim in the December attack.  Rabbi David Niederman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, said, “The bedrock of the Williamsburg community is tolerance for one and another. Any act of violence by any individual, against anyone, for whatever reason, is condemned in the strongest possible terms.”  

EDGE on the Net reports that Patterson is a fashion student studying at the New York City College of Technology.  While he says he does not remember much from the attack that occurred with swift savagery, he clearly recalls at least one of his assailants shouting, “Stay down, faggot, stay the fuck down,” as he kicked Patterson in the face.  Since the horrific incident, Patterson has undergone surgery to repair his torn retina.

The true heroine of the whole bloody affair was the driver of Bus 57 who slammed on her brakes and stepped out of her bus snapping pictures of the assault with her cell phone, according to the New York Post.  The NYPD say that the attacking gang fled the scene when they realized she was taking their pictures.

April 25, 2014 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Brooklyn, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hasidic Jews, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Israel, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, Racism, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lesbian Couple Beaten By Mob in Chicago; One Suspect Arrested

Terry Glover, 24, charged with anti-lesbian hate crimes and robbery in West Side Chicago neighborhood [Chicago PD photo].

Terry Glover, 24, charged with anti-lesbian hate crimes and robbery in West Side Chicago neighborhood [Chicago PD photo].

Chicago, Illinois – A mob of 10 men assaulted a lesbian couple, yelling anti-lesbian slurs as they pressed their attack on Saturday, July 6.  The Chicago Tribune reports that a single suspect, Terry Glover, 24, has been apprehended, and is being held in a Cook County jail on $1 million bail for two counts of felony hate crime and two counts of felony robbery.  The two women, aged 23 and 25, were robbed and beaten late in the night in the West Side neighborhood of Austin.  Nine other suspects remain at large.

In personal accounts of the harrowing attack, the women, who wish to remain unidentified, say that their assailants yelled that no “bitch dykes” were going to walk through their neighborhood.  The assault, they say, was initiated by Glover who was a former school classmate of one of the women.  The couple allege they were taunted for their sexual orientation, knocked to the ground, and kicked while they were down.  “It was punches, kicks, everything being thrown at us,” one of the victims told the Tribune. “We just held onto each other until somebody said, ‘Here come the police.'”  One of the women had her shirt ripped from her body during the attack, and the cash and cell phones of them both were taken.  The mob ran at the approach of police officers.

By Monday, Glover was in custody, and was hauled before a Cook County judge, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

The younger of the two women told the Tribune, “It really shouldn’t matter who I like or who I love. I should be able to walk the streets wherever I want to go and talk to whoever I want to talk to.”  

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Supreme Court decisions of last month, the violence against LGBTQ people in America continues, apparently unabated. Rick Garcia, policy director of The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBTQ rights organization, told Tribune reporters, “We see cases like this all the time, all over the city and all over the state.  It shows that animosity toward lesbian and gay people is just below the surface. We think we’ve made such big gains, but right below the surface we see this animosity and violence.”

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Gang violence, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, mob-violence and lynching, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lesbian Couple Beaten By Mob in Chicago; One Suspect Arrested

Halloween Hate Crime Attack in San Diego

Jacob Harshbarger, gay bashed in San Diego (Fernando Lopez photo)

San Diego, California – A gay man was brutally beaten behind his home on Halloween morning by a mixed gender gang who shouted anti-gay epithets as they punched, kicked, and body-slammed him.  “Come over here and kick the fairy!” they shouted, among other slurs.  San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (SDLN) reports that Jacob Harshbarger, a well-known 32-year-old San Diegan gay man, was walking his two dogs in the alley behind his home about 3 a.m., after the bars closed on Sunday, October 31.  He noticed a group of three women and two men in the alley who seemed suspicious.  Intent on finishing his dog-walking, Harshbarger did not respond when one of the suspects asked him a question.  That night, Harsbarger had donned a tee-shirt with a catty, gay theme on it to wear out to the local bars for the Halloween parties.  Upon returning to his home, he wore a hoodie over the tee-shirt that covered the slogan.  The victim wondered if somehow during the exchange, one of the gang read his shirt, igniting the attack.  One of the males shouted out that Harsbarger was a gay man, drawing the others into the assault.  SDLN reports that the assailants fell upon Harsbarger, screaming that he was a “f*****g faggot.” A neighbor recalls hearing a loud “bang,” which was most likely the sound of Harsbarger’s body as he was slammed into the house during the gay bashing. The neighbor and her son investigated the commotion in the alley beside their house and found Harsbarger unconscious on the ground.  Though brief, the assault was savage.  Harsbarger was diagnosed with a concussion, and needed thirteen stitches to close his split lip, and was beaten so severely in the face that he sustained bruising behind his eyes.  The victim remembers very little, once the attack commenced.  He recalled for SDLN that one of the female gang members tried to get the chief attacker to stop when he kicked Harsbarger in the face, and that in the argument that broke out between the females and the males, one of the male attackers kicked one of the women in the stomach.  The next thing the victim remembered was the journey to a local hospital in an ambulance.  Harsbarger was treated and released to recover at home.  LGBTQ activists in San Diego say that the North Park section of the city is supposed to be safe and friendly to LGBTQ, people.  This attack is a wake-up call to the community, and a further indicator of the mounting violence against gay and lesbian people throughout the nation in the wake of the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law last October.  Local activist Fernando Lopez told reporters, “We think of San Diego and North Park as being progressive and safe. It’s devastating that someone would do this to Jacob, or any member of our community.” Police officers are not willing to label the attack a hate crime.  A spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department speculated that Harsbarger was “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” likely a spurious opinion, since the North Park area is thought to be relatively free of problems for LGBTQ people.  Investigators found that Harsbarger’s hoodie was zipped up when paramedics found him lying unconscious on the ground, so the attack was not sparked by the victim’s clothing, as he feared.  One of the attackers left a cell phone at the scene, which may prove to be a critical element in locating the suspects.  Since no one saw the bashing, investigators are left with the partial memories of a shaken and hurt victim of yet another crime of hate violence against the LGBTQ community in southern California.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, Gang violence, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Halloween Hate Crime Attack in San Diego


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