Black, Jewish Leaders Open Door For More Talks

Mending relationships.  Black and Jewish community leaders continue to hash out a resolution after an African-American teen is allegedly attacked in a mostly Jewish neighborhood.

As Gigi Barnett reports, both sides have many questions and few answers.   

“We have come up here tonight wanting to come to the meeting, but they closed us out and this is wrong,” said Rabbi Chalmers Shropshire, community activist.

There was a lot of anger outside a closed-door, invitation-only meeting Wednesday night.

In the room, there were members from the black community on one side and Jewish leaders on the other.

It’s a clear picture of what both groups are trying to avoid in the Park Heights neighborhood.

“We all believe that this is an incident that should not have happened and played out in the manner that it did. OK. But the question is why,” said Art Abramson, Executive Director of Baltimore Jewish Council.

In question is what happened on the afternoon of Nov. 19 in Park Heights. A 15-year-old black teen says a member of the Jewish patrol group Shomrim assaulted him.

According to charging documents, guard Eliyahu Werdesheim, 23, beat the boy with a walkie-talkie and told the teen that he didn’t belong in the neighborhood.

Werdesheim says it was all in self-defense. He believed the boy was a criminal suspect seen on several back porches and the Shomrim Guard says it was the teen who lashed out first.

“There is much more information that has to be gathered and for all of us to come to a conclusion as to which direction we should take,” said Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr., Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

Many people are wondering if Shomrim should disband or if the guards just need to take some race-sensitivity training. And lastly, is if Werdesheim acted alone. That’s all in question because the next step isn’t clear.

“The question is has somebody — a member of the group– done something that should have not have been done and if he did, how are we going to deal with that,” said Abramson.

One thing is clear to the group, more sessions like Wednesday night are needed. So far, another meeting has yet to be scheduled.

Shomrim suspended Werdesheim from the group until an internal investigation is complete.


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