(JTA) – The attack on an identifiably Jewish teen in New York City has been classified as a gang incident and not a hate crime, angering the local Jewish community. David Paltielov, 16, a Bukharian Jew, remained hospitalized one week after the Nov. 29 attack in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, the Gothamist reported. He was wearing a kippah and tzitzit at the time of the attack.
Members of the Bukharian Jewish community have called on the New York Police Department to reclassify the crime, pointing out that the boy did not know his attackers since he attends a neighborhood yeshiva and not the local public high school. According to the Alliance for Bukharian Americans, some witnesses heard the attackers scream antisemitic phrases such as “Kill the Jew,” the Gothamist reported. Some 20 to 30 teens attacked Paltielov, and there were an equal number of onlookers, according to the report.
Waleska Mendez, a volunteer at Masbia soup kitchen near the site of the incident, emerged from the building wielding a broom to stop the attack, the report said. The two alleged assailants, Jonathan Torres, 18, and a 17-year-old male, were both charged Thursday, Dec. 6 with first-degree felony gang assault and second-degree felony assault. That evening, neighborhood community officers from the local police precinct told a community forum Thursday night that there have been problems between blacks and Hispanic students and Russian Jewish students at Forest Hills High School and that Paltielov was an unfortunate victim of the strife, QNS reported.
Two Orthodox Jewish teens were attacked in separate incidents in Brooklyn on the same day.