A brawl in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn grocery store has led to three assault charges and a wave of anger from some activists in the neighborhood’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
According to the local news site DNAinfo, the June 9 fight started when the Hasidic managers of the Central Market grocery store told a teenager that he couldn’t ride his hoverboard in their store.
The situation escalated when a manager shoved the teenager, causing the teenager’s aunt, Julissa Soto, to push the manager. In response, according to the DNAinfo account, the manager allegedly threw a peach at Soto’s face. Soto also told DNAinfo that the managers dislocated her shoulder. Photos of Soto taken after the incident show a swollen and bloodied right eye.
What happened next was caught on a video that was posted on social media by Gary Schlesinger, a leader of the Brooklyn-based followers of Aron Teitelbaum, the Satmar rebbe of Kiryas Joel. In the video, Soto’s father, Mark Soto, can be seen punching store managers. A crying woman can be heard in the background.
Soto and one of the store managers, Abraham Spielman, were charged with misdemeanor assault, according to local television news station Pix11. Another store manager, Mattis Edelstein, was charged with felony assault for allegedly attacking Julissa Soto.
Mark Soto told Pix11 that he was acting in self defense when he punched the store managers.
Schleisenger called a press conference on June 16 to protest police treatment of the store managers. In a Facebook post, he complained that one of the arrested managers was in police custody for more than 24 hours after the incident, and that he had nearly missed the three-day Shavuot holiday, which began on the evening of June 11.
Schleisenger could not be reached for comment.
The Forward reported in April that Orthodox leaders in the nearby neighborhood of Boro Park, Brooklyn, are able to arrange for Jews arrested on low-level offenses to be released on a desk appearance ticket, rather than be processed through central booking.
Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.