Background on the incident:
On Nov. 19, a group of men from the Park Heights neighborhood watch group, Shomrim of Baltimore, targeted a 15-year-old African-American young man for simply walking in what they consider to be their neighborhood.
Shomrim member Eliyahu Eliezer Werdesheim, a veteran of the Israeli Special Forces and CEO of the Baltimore-based private security firm Sayeret Operational Solutions, harassed the teenager, telling him he didn’t belong in that neighborhood, and then hit him over the head with a radio. Shortly after other Shomrim members, including Eliyahu's younger brother Avi, joined in the racist attack by kneeing the young man in the back, forcing him to the ground, patting him down, and leaving him with lacerations and a broken wrist.
Werdesheim turned himself in after he faced five charges, including first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment. He was released on a $50,000 bond.
Werdesheim stood for his preliminary hearing on Dec. 28, 2010, but it was postponed for Jan. 20, 2011. Between appearances, the courts allowed this racist criminal to leave the country on a pleasant vacation in Israel, though he was still facing felony charges. Had the situation been the other way around—an African-American male adult attacking a white young man—the racist criminal “justice” system, where only three to five percent of criminal cases actually go to trial, surely wouldn’t have permitted this to happen.
At the Jan. 20 preliminary hearing, the judge decided to drop Werdesheim’s felony charge of first-degree assault, leaving him facing only a few misdemeanors. The hearing for the misdemeanor charges was later scheduled for May 2. At the same time, Avi Werdesheim was brought up on second-degree assault charges with his brother.
Justice delayed is justice denied
This news sparked outrage among community members, which culminated in the formation the May 2 Movement, a broad multinational coalition of various activist and religious groups in Baltimore city. The May 2 Movement built for a loud and militant protest on the morning of May 2 in downtown Baltimore, directly in front of the Mitchell Courthouse where the hearing was to take place. But in an effort to remove the issue from the public eye, the "justice" system delayed the hearing for July, hoping Baltimore residents would forget about the case.
Another protest called by the May 2 Movement was set for June 22, where demonstrators faced much police intimidation. However, the political establishment's efforts at breaking community solidarity for the victim of the racist assault have failed. Community members have only gotten angrier about the failure to bring the Werdesheim brothers to justice.
Since the incident, organizers and volunteers with the ANSWER Coalition have been out in the streets leafleting, petitioning and talking to residents in the lower Park Heights community and throughout Baltimore City. ANSWER has continued to work as a member organization of the May 2 Movement, the leading coalition in this struggle.
Our work has been well received and scores of individuals have expressed outright anger and frustration toward the racist assault.
We cannot tolerate this in our community!
The criminal “justice” system has made it very clear that it will not prosecute Eliyahu and Avi Werdesheim for first-degree assault and hate crimes. Shomrim of Baltimore, a group that creates an environment of racism, and the Baltimore Police Department have maintained a five-year-long, close-knit relationship that will remain unshaken unless people take action.
It is absolutely necessary for a grassroots movement
involving people from all walks of life to come together to demand:
No to all hate crimes!
Prosecute Eliyahu and Avi Werdesheim to the fullest extent of the law!
Disband Shomrim now!
Resources and reparations for the lower Park Heights community
Join the campaign!
- Sign the petition.
- Send a letter to the mayor and state’s attorney for Baltimore City.
- Download the petition to get signers in your community.
- Download the flyer to spread the word.
- To volunteer, call 443-759-9968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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