Five hasidic men linked to the Shomrim Safety Patrol of Williamsburg, Brooklyn were arrested yesterday for allegedly savagely beating Taj Patterson, a gay black college student, in early December. Today, Shomrim issued a deceptive, highly parsed statement. Here it is…
Taj Patterson, the alleged victim
The complete statement from Williamsburg Shomrim Safety Patrol on yesterday's arrests of five hasidim linked to it for the savage beating of a gay balck college student, Taj Patterson:
For over three decades the Williamsburg Shomrim Safety Patrol has acted as the eyes and ears of the community. Its members are dedicated community servants who take responsibility for protecting our neighborhood, not endangering it. Over the years we have collaborated closely with the NYPD and our efforts have led to the successful arrest and prosecution of dozens of suspects for attacks against Jews and non-Jews alike. Reports that all five of the defendants indicted today are members of our organization are not true, and the acts alleged in these indictments are contrary to our mission and our membership. The Williamsburg Shomrim Safety Patrol condemns all acts of vigilantism in any form and treats all members of the greater community with the dignity and respect they all deserve.
This statement is deceptive and evasive.
It says "reports that all five of the defendants indicted today are members of our organization are not true," but does not say how many of the five are actually Shomrim members and what their names are.
It shows no sympathy for or empathy with the victim.
No matter what Shomrim's "mission" is, a savage beating took place, and witnesses say a gang of hasidic men, many dressed in clothes with Shomrim patches or shields, carried it out.
The D.A.'s press release on the arrests sums up what the grand jury found – the five arrested hasidic men "are associated with the Williamsburg Safety Patrol Unit [the official name of Williamsburg's Shomrim patrol]."
Might it be that some of the five are junior members or something similar? Sure. But whether full members or partial members or members in training, these five are associated with Shomrim – an allegation Shomrim does not deny.
There are still five to 15 more hasidim who participated in that beating and who have not yet been arrested. Are all of them, with their shields and Shomrim jackets, not Shomrim members? Of course not, and if more arrests are made, we'll see that.
Williamsburg Shomrim has a long history of violence, and some allege it also has a close affiliation with Williamsburg's modesty squad, which has its own violent history.
Despite the semantic games being played by Shomrim, at least five men associated with it allegedly committed a series of felonies that could see each of them spend the next 25 years in state prison.
Unlike Shomrim's statement, these crimes were not parsed or borderline; they were viscous and entirely uncalled for.
And that – and the response from Shomrim that shows no sympathy for or empathy with the victim – speaks volumes for what Williamsburg's Shomrim Patrol really is.