Two Brooklyn men were arraigned Wednesday on charges including assault as a hate crime for an alleged attack on a Lubavitcher chassid in Crown Heights last month, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced.
The 22-year-old victim was walking home just past midnight on May 1 from World Lubavitch Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. He felt that he was being followed and turned the corner at Albany Avenue and President Street, where defendants Darren Morgan, 20, and Justin George, 19, both of Brooklyn, caught up to him, the DA’s office alleges. The defendants punched the victim and, as he tried to get away, grabbed him, threw him against a car and repeatedly punched his face and body. The victim dropped a pushka containing over $200 that he was carrying, but the defendants did not touch it, nor did they demand any money or property. The victim suffered bruising and swelling to his face.
As the defendants were assaulting the victim a police car drove by, and the defendants fled. They were apprehended shortly thereafter, and allegedly told police that they were irritated at the victim because he was talking on a cellphone in another language.
Morgan and George were arraigned Wednesday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy on multiple charges, including third-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree menacing as a hate crime, and third-degree assault. They were ordered to return to court on August 14. If convicted of the top charge, they face up to four years in prison.
“We allege that these defendants decided to assault a man for the sole reason that he looked different than them and spoke a different language,” said DA Gonzalez. “I will never tolerate bias-motivated crimes in Brooklyn, and will investigate and prosecute them vigorously. Our strength is in our diversity.”