An unexpected 6th defendant is indicted in the 2021 antisemitic assault against Joey Borgen


When the fifth of his attackers was sentenced to prison in January, Joey Borgen said, “now this is all said and done.”

Borgen, the victim of an antisemitic assault on the streets of New York City in 2021, had fought for years in court – and in the court of public opinion — to bring his attackers to justice. The January sentencing was thought to be the end of the ordeal, and Borgen said at the time that he hoped to “kind of take a step back, take a deep breath and hopefully just push forward.”

But as of this week, the legal saga is ongoing: On Thursday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced that his office has tracked down a sixth attacker in Florida, extradited him to New York and indicted him on hate crimes for the attack. 

Salem Seleiman, 28, was charged with assault in the second degree as a hate crime, assault in the third degree as a hate crime and attempted gang assault in the first degree. The five other defendants have pleaded guilty and been sentenced; three were sentenced to prison terms earlier this year.

Borgen welcomed the news at a time of rising antisemitism in New York City. 

“I think it sends a strong message that antisemitic crimes, or any hate crimes for that matter, will not be ignored,” Borgen said after the indictment.

Borgen’s assault happened on May 20, 2021, near the end of the last round of conflict between Israel and Hamas, after the attackers left a pro-Palestinian protest at Times Square around 7 p.m. As they walked up Broadway, they encountered Borgen, who was wearing a kippah. The assailants chased Borgen down the street, grabbed him, threw him to the ground and repeatedly punched him in the face. The group then kicked and pepper sprayed Borgen while he was on the ground. They made antisemitic remarks, including “filthy Jew,” “dirty Jew,” and said “f— Israel.”

The district attorney’s office said Seleiman kicked Borgen in the face while he was on the ground, and when bystanders attempted to intervene in the attack, Seleiman urged them to leave the scene. Ahead of the rally, the defendants coordinated their plans and discussed how to conceal their identities, Bragg’s office has said.

“As alleged, Salem Seleiman disrupted a peaceful pro-Israel rally when he participated in a brutal antisemitic attack on a Jewish man,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “Violently assaulting someone because of their religion is unacceptable, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, community groups and local leaders to address attacks on the Jewish community.”    

The assault in May 2021 occurred, when the city saw a series of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrations. The court proceedings and debates around proposed sentences have stretched into the current war. Today, pro-Palestinian rallies have returned as a near-daily fixture on the city’s streets — many of them by the same groups that protested in 2021.

Borgen applauded the arrest, but voiced concern about the handling of other recent antisemitic incidents, including this month’s dismissal of charges against most of the protesters who occupied a Columbia University campus building in April.

“Other cases right now are not being taken seriously enough,” Borgen said. “I think it’s important that we continue to fight for justice.”