An elderly Jewish man with a walking stick was allegedly attacked in Highbury Corner in Islington, London at around 14:15 yesterday. The defenceless man, said to be in his 70s, was reportedly left with “blood pouring from his mouth” in a completely unprovoked attack.
An eyewitness, Brittany Russell, told the Islington Gazette that it was “definitely a hate crime.” She said that: “The old man told us that he was standing there to catch his breath when the man came up to him and was asking if he was Jewish. Following that the man started to hit him and that’s when I was walking past with my mum.”
Speaking to the paper, another witness, Marian Kennedy, said that: “He was punching him violently and right in the face with a closed fist. The older gentleman was utterly defenceless. He was being hit really hard and my instinct was jump between them but there was so much rage and violence. There was nothing I could do. The older man was not retaliating at all. He was just standing there as the guy repeatedly swung.” She added that: “Blood was pouring from the old man’s mouth and his body must have taken a lot of blows. The attacker ran off very fast. He was manic.”
The witness said that the alleged attacker claimed that the elderly Jewish man had hit him with the stick but she doubted his claim, saying: “The old man wasn’t aggressive. He was just taking the blows. He kept going: ‘Please stop’.”
An appeal has been launched to find the alleged perpetrator who is described as being in his 30s, with a strong build and shaved head. He was seen wearing a checked shirt and overcoat running away from the scene shortly after the attack.
Anybody with information should immediately contact the Metropolitan Police Service by calling 101.
A Metropolitan Police Service spokesman confirmed that the incident is being treated as “a racially aggravated public order offence”
Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli tweeted: “So very sorry for the victim, his family and the wider Jewish community for this awful and targeted attack. Hate crime is vile, unacceptable and makes minority communities feel vulnerable. The Metropolitan Police Service in Camden and Islington will do our utmost to find out who did this.”
The local MP, Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted his concern that the incident had shaken the Jewish community: “Today in Islington an elderly man was violently assaulted because he was Jewish. This racist attack has shaken our community. I’ve spoken with local councillors and we will be supporting the police. I urge anyone who saw anything to contact the police.”
A spokesman for Stamford Hill Shomrim, a Jewish volunteer neighbourhood watch patrol, said that: “An elderly Jew suffered a wholly unprovoked physical attack by a far right thug on Tuesday at Highbury Corner in London. This is happening much too often all over London. We are deeply concerned by the lack of police active response to such incidents. We are also deeply disappointed at the lack of appropriate sentencing on the rare occasions when such incidents actually reach court. The government has a duty to protect its Jewish citizens and all minorities from such hateful behaviour.”