A Nassau County man wearing a yarmulke said he was beaten and pepper-sprayed in Times Square on Thursday by men making anti-Semitic remarks, an account corroborated by an NYPD spokesman.
The attack on Joey Borgen, 29, of Lawrence, came around 6:45 p.m., and pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clashed around that same time in the street nearby.
Video from the protest shows NYPD cops trying to contain the clashes.
According to the NYPD spokesman, Det. Hubert Reyes, the victim was knocked to the ground near 1604 Broadway, punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and struck with someone else’s crutches as anti-Semitic remarks were made. The man was treated at Bellevue hospital.
Five or six men are believed to have committed the attack, Reyes said. One of the men, 23, was arrested nearby on West 47th Street and Broadway; charges were pending and his name wasn’t released. The other attackers are being sought, Reyes said.
Borgen told Newsday he was en route to a pro-Israel event. He was alone, wearing a yarmulke, and realized he was being chased while walking from the subway, he said.
Suddenly, "they just started wailing on me, punching me, kicking me, assaulting me," Borgen said. He said he covered his head with his hands and "I took the beating."
"I took a bunch of kicks, a bunch of punches," he said.
The attackers were cursing Israel, calling him anti-Semitic names, and hailing Hamas, Borgen said.
He said Friday afternoon that his ribs are still sore and his head hurts.
Borgen's father, Barry, told Newsday that his son, an accountant who lives on the Upper East Side, had exchanged no words with the men who "boom, they jumped him and beat the [expletive] out of him. It’s hard to understand. It’s really hard to understand."
His son left the hospital at about 2 a.m., with bruises and a concussion, Barry said. "It could have been worse," he said. "I’ll count my blessings at this point."
He added: "It’s a crying shame. That’s what it is."
On Friday morning, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran spoke with the victim's father, according to her spokesman Jordan Carmon.
In a statement, Curran said she had directed the county police "to continue to communicate with synagogues and yeshivas, as well as other houses of worship, to ensure all of our residents are protected."
"I am appalled by the anti-Semitic gang attacks in New York City that victimized a Nassau resident, as well as the rising number of attacks targeting Jews in major cities like Los Angeles and London," the statement said. "It is completely unacceptable for anybody to be intimidated or attacked because of who they are, and we will not tolerate in Nassau County. We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and against vile anti-Semitism that will never find comfort in our communities."
Speaking Friday morning on his weekly appearance with WNYC radio, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the attack, as well as another clashes, in which protesters are seen appearing to throw fireworks. He said "we have arrests already and more coming."
"It’s absolutely disgusting and unacceptable. We had a man viciously beaten, simply because he appeared to some individuals to be Jewish. We had folks throwing very potent fireworks and creating harm to others and burning at least one person," he said.
CORRECTION: Joey Borgen's last name was misspelled in earlier versions of this story.