Two men holding hands in New York City‘s historically gay Chelsea neighborhood were the victims of an anti-gay bias attack by up to six men very early this morning. Both men suffered lacerations to their faces and one required stitches.
“The incident took place at around midnight after the couple left the Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema on 23rd between 7th and 8th,” CBS News reports. The Bow Tie used to be the Chelsea Cinemas (image, top). Reports state the men were attacked on West 24th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.
“Police say the victims, ages 53 years old and 27, were walking home from a movie overnight Tuesday, while holding hands,” local NYC TV News WABC reports:
They were passed by as many as six suspects, who yelled anti gay slurs, according to police.
At some point a confrontation ensued between the groups and the suspects allegedly surrounded the victims and attacked them twice.
One victim sustained a laceration on one side of his face, the other has a laceration which required seven stitches to close.
NY1 News adds the “NYPD says the case is being investigated by the hate crimes unit.”
No suspects have yet been arrested.
Sharon Stapel, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) told The New Civil Rights Movement by phone today that “this recent instance and the recent high-profile instances at the beginning of the summer highlight the violence LGBT people in New York City experience every day.”
“We will not be comfortable until all LGBT people feel safe in all boroughs of New York City,” Stapel added.
Stapel said she wants people to know they can contact the Anti-Violence Project for support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on their bilingual hotline, at (212) 714-1141.
The AVP’s Report Violence To End Violence campaign, Stapel stressed, has been successful in raising awareness and “bringing community members together individually and collectively to stay safe and end this violence.”
An NYC Anti-Violence Project report (PDF) notes that reports of hate violence for LGBTQ and HIV-affected New Yorkers have increased, “continuing a three-year trend in increased violence locally, despite a national decrease in violence.”
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is running for mayor of New York City, sent this statement to The New Civil Rights Movement today:
“I am appalled by reports that two men were senselessly beaten in Chelsea simply because they were perceived to be gay. Holding hands as they walked down West 24th Street, they were assaulted as their attackers hurled anti-gay slurs.
The cowardly individuals who committed this crime do not represent New Yorkers and our community will not be cowed by such violence. New York City’s greatest strength is our diversity, and we will not stand for attacks against anyone, for any reason. We thank the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force for taking immediate action to investigate this incident, and urge anyone with information about these assaults to contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-866-313-TIPS.”
New York City’s LGBT community was rocked by an anti-gay hate crime wave in May, which included the point-blank range shooting murder of Mark Carson.
UPDATE 5:55 PM EDT:
“We have to send a clear message that we won’t let hate work its way into our communities,” NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is also running for mayor of New York City, told The New Civil Rights Movement via email today:
“LGBTQ New Yorkers have the right to walk any street in this city free from violence or intimidation. Any bias attack against the LGBTQ community needs to be met with aggressive action–both in terms of our condemnation, and in terms of police response. The community needs to know the City is there and will meet its fundamental obligation to protect its people.”
UPDATE II: 6:05 PM EDT:
“The rising number of anti-LGBT attacks around the country is staggering and needs to be addressed immediately,” said Wilson Cruz, National Spokesperson for GLAAD. “Nobody should have to fear simply walking down a street in their own neighborhood because of who they are.”
UPDATE III: 8:40 PM EDT:
Yetta Kurland, a civil rights attorney, LGBT activist, and Democratic candidate for New York City Council’s district 3, which includes the Chelsea area, offered this comment to The New Civil Rights Movement tonight:
“It is deeply distressing to hear of yet another incident of a violent bias attack against two members of my community, and in my neighborhood. My thoughts are with the two survivors, Peter and Michael. I will continue to do everything in my power to bring the perpetrators of hate crimes to justice and to stop the violence.”
Image: Google Streetview
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