An Orthodox Jewish man walking in the center of Jewish Williamsburg late Sunday was the victim of the recent knockout phenomenon, and local elected officials and community leaders are demanding that the New York Police Department do more to protect residents.
Eli Leidner, 26, was approached by a teenage boy and girl and knocked to the ground at about 10:40 p.m. on Bedford Avenue and Taylor Street, according to the New York Post. Leidner was not hurt seriously but officials believe he was attacked by the two teens, both of whom are minorities, because of his obviously Jewish appearance.
“I am thoroughly disgusted by this hateful attack,” Councilman Stephen Levin, a Democrat who represents the neighborhood, said in a harshly worded statement. “Attacking innocent victims has no place in our great city, and to deter these acts from recurring in our neighborhoods we must increase police coverage. To the perpetrators of these disturbing and hateful acts: We will find you and you will go to jail.”
Levin praised police and Shomrim for their response, but urged greater vigilence.
The attack, if confirmed, would be the latest in more than a dozen knockout crimes committed by black or Hispanic youths against Jews in Brooklyn. What binds all the attacks is that nothing of value is stolen, and the attackers, who do not know the victim, revel in knocking him out with a single blow to the head.
Most of the attacks over the past few months have occurred in Crown Heights. However, just two weeks ago there was another attack on a Jew in Boro Park. And a Bronx man attacked last week said that he felt like “he got shot.”
“This is the second attack on a Jewish man in just over a week and it is time for increased police coverage,” Rabbi Moshe David Niederman, executive director of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, said. “We will not tolerate these hateful acts to occur in our community. This is a peace-loving community and one that will stand together to make sure the perpetrators of this act are apprehended and brought to justice.”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat, told CBS News that while race was not yet confirmed as a basis for the attack, residents are increasingly growing frightened over the spurt of knockouts.
“It seems clear that overwhelmingly here in New York the victims have been Jewish, there’s no question about that,” Hikind said. “You have New Yorkers who are afraid to walk the streets, afraid to let their kids walk the streets because you don’t know who the next victim is going to be.”
While police have cast doubt on the existence of “knockout” crimes per se, all of the attacks are currently being investigated as a hate crime since they involved attacks by blacks on Jews.