Tensions Rise After Teen Beat By Volunteer

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There are calls for a Jewish neighborhood patrol to be disbanded after a black teenager was allegedly beaten by a volunteer.  Two minority groups in Baltimore are trying to avoid racial divisions. 

Andrea Fujii has more.

To alleviate any racial unrest, leaders from black and Jewish communities are planning to meet next week and discuss how to ease tensions.

A 15-year-old African American boy says he has a broken wrist and cuts, thanks to a volunteer Jewish community patrolman.  He says he was walking on Fallstaff Road when a member of Shomrim stopped him.

“We have a case that we’re investigating now where it involves an individual that may have taken the law into their own hands,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Baltimore City police.

The teen says the driver, 23-year-old Eliyahu Werdesheim, asked him if he “wanted some problems.”  Then, according to reports, the boy picked up a stick, two men got out of the van, threw him to the ground, held him down and hit him in the head with a walkie talkie.

“This person was on back porches, looking in houses,” said Werdesheim’s attorney, Andrew Alperstein.

Alperstein says his client, a former Israeli special forces soldier, thought the teen was responsible for recent crimes in the neighborhood and that it was Werdesheim who acted in self-defense.

Friday morning, former Baltimore NAACP President Doc Cheatham is among the leaders calling for Shomrim to be suspended while a police investigation continues.

A member of Shomrim, which means “watchers” in Hebrew, says the group is still active but Werdesheim has been suspended.

Werdesheim is charged with first degree assault, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment.  He’s free on $50,000 bond.


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