On November 29 at 5 p.m., David Paltielov was severely beaten by a group of teens from Forest Hills High School at the corner of 108th Street and 64th Road as he walked home from Midrash L’man Achai, a local Yeshiva.
The 16-year-old suffered bruises and cuts to his head. He is still recovering at Elmhurst Hospital.
Jonathan Torres, 18, and Victor Hidalgo, 17, were charged with felony gang assault. However, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force investigated and determined the assault did not fit the definition of a hate crime, outraging some community members.
At a recent meeting, neighborhood community officers (NCOs) from Sector C explained that there had been problems between students at Forest Hills High School and local neighborhood teens.
“At Forest Hills High School, there’s been a bit of beef between some of the Russian Jewish kids and some of the Hispanic and black kids,” the officer explained. “On November 28, there was a fight where one of the Spanish kids got beat up. Now, on Thursday, there was a group of Spanish people who were seeking retribution.”
The officer added, however, that Paltielov was not involved in the earlier incident.
“They jumped him because he is Jewish,” said one resident at the meeting. “The police may not want to have a statistic that indicates a rise in hate crimes in Queens or in Forest Hills.”
The Alliance of Bukharian Americans (ABA) and the Chazaq Organization held an emergency meeting with local community leaders and elected officials following the assault.
Dozens of people shared their concerns for the Jewish community amidst a rise in attacks around the city, including three attacks against Jewish teens in recent weeks in the Forest Hills area.
But the NYPD insists that Paltielov’s assault stems from tensions between groups of teenagers.
“There have been a lot of kids getting out of school at 5 p.m. and getting into fights,” said NCO David Bleck. “We’ve had some injuries, we’ve had kids carrying weapons, it’s a school-related thing.
“We have more resources this week than we had last week, we were kind of caught off guard by the fights,” Bleck added. “It’s schoolyard kids getting into a beef and there’s some retaliation.”