Editorial: A Travesty Of Justice In Brooklyn

By Shmarya Rosenberg (Failed Messiah blog)
April 28, 2014

Brooklyn's new District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has given a Satmar hasid who threw bleach in the face of anti-child-sex-abuse activist Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg a non-prison sentence. This does not bode well for justice in Brooklyn and it should enrage anyone concerned with democracy and the need for equal justice for all.

Brooklyn's new District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has given Meilich Schnitzler, a Satmar hasid who threw bleach in the face of anti-child-sex-abuse activist Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, a non-prison sentence. This does not bode well for justice in Brooklyn and it should enrage anyone concerned with democracy and the need for equal justice for all.

Put simply, people need to be able to safely walk the streets without fearing attack from opponents who don't like the legal causes people advocate for.

And people need to know that if someone violates the law and physically attacks them, that assailant will be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows.

That did not happen after Taj Patterson, a gay black college student left a party in the early morning of December first and tried to walk home to Fort Greene, Brooklyn. According to Patterson and several eyewitnesses, Patterson was attacked by a mob of about 20 hasidim, most wearing what appeared to be Shomrim patches on their jackets. He was severely beaten and was left blind in one eye.

But despite photos taken by eyewitnesses of the attackers and some of their cars, the NYPD under previous Commissioner Ray Kelley made no arrests.

Commissioner Bill Bratton and Thompson took office in the first week of January.

When FailedMessiah.com called the NYPD spokesman in March to find out why, he was totally unaware of the case and could provide no information on it. He did, however, promise to contact the commander of the notoriously corrupt 90th Precinct to get that information and then call back. He never did.

After waiting ten days, FailedMessiah.com wrote a report exposing the NYPD's apparent lack of active interest in the Patterson case.

Soon afterward, a grand jury was impaneled and last week, five of the approximately 20 hasidim who beat Patterson were arrested.

But despite evidence that the hasidic attackers uttered anti-gay slurs as they beat Patterson, DA Ken Thompson chose not to charge the five arrested hasidim with a hate crime. (He did, however, charge them with a gang assault.)

Now, less than one week later Thompson has done something else that calls his ability to be a fair and impartial district attorney into question – he has given Meilech Schnitzler, who admitted to throwing a cup of bleach in the face of anti-child-sex-abuse activist Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, a no-prison sentence.

Schnitzler was originally charged with felony assault, but he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and could have been sentenced to as much as seven years in prison. He got five years of probation and no jail time at all.

This, combined with Thompson's three months of apparent inactivity on the Patterson case and Thompson's frequent palling around with Satmar hasidic leadership leads to the inescapable conclusion that justice in Brooklyn will be nearly as unequal under the reign of Thompson as it was under his clearly corrupt predecessor Charles J. Hynes.

Nuchem Rosenberg said he would have been happy if Schnitzler got a six month jail sentence.

"We changed the DA but we didn't change any behavior in the DA's office. The guy walks free…where is our protection?," Rosenberg asked today after Schnitzler's sentence was announced.

The answer is that in Brooklyn, there is no protection when the assailants are part of large hasidic groups like Satmar who bloc vote.

The way to fix Brooklyn's problems is for the US Department of Justice to pursue civil rights charges against the assailants – and against the cops and prosecutors, including Thompson, who enable them. And this can not happen too soon.