BALTIMORE (WJZ)— The two brothers involved in a racially charged incident in Park Heights headed to court Wednesday morning. In November, a black teenager was stopped by a Jewish volunteer neighborhood patrol group called Shomrim. What happened next is in dispute, but assault charges have been filed against the two.
Mike Schuh was there when they came to court.
The court sees it as simple misdemeanor cases. Out on the streets, one side calls it racism, the other protection.
Avi and Eli Werdesheim strode into the Mitchell Courthouse to the cheers of more than a hundred supporters.
They’re being arraigned for the November incident in Park Heights.
The police report states that the two Werdesheim brothers followed a 15-year-old African-American and got out of their private patrol car. In the charging documents, the teen told police that Eli Werdesheim hit him in the head with his radio and shouted expletives saying: “You don’t belong around here, get outta here!”
The brothers claim the teen swung a 2×4 studded with nails. The teen says his wrist was broken.
The incident has sparked protests and claims of racism.Physically, the two protest groups were only 110 feet apart Wednesday, but philosophically they’re miles apart.
“So we’re here today to show a sense of solidarity and say to the citizens of Baltimore City and to our friends in upper Park Heights is that all we want is justice,” said Rev. C.D. Whiterspoon, protesting Shomrim.
The reverend is part of a coalition of nine groups which called for the protests. But only a dozen protesters heard the call.
To the north, Shomrim supporters sang songs and sent prayers asking for help from God.
“I think it’s important to support the Werdesheims as they go through this challenge,” said Stuart Goldman, Shomrim supporter.
In a two-minute court appearance, the trial date for the three misdemeanor charges: second-degree assault, false imprisonment and possession of a deadly weapon with intent to injure was set.
After court, both brothers thanked their supporters.
“They enter a not guilty plea and we resolve this in the courtroom,” said Andrew Alperstein, attorney.
Eli Werdesheim was originally charged with a felony, but that charge was later dropped by city prosecutors.
Both brothers now face the same three assault and weapons misdemeanor charges. Their trials have been combined and the trial date is set for May 2 at the Mitchell Courthouse.