NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two men were arrested Friday in connection with the attack on two gay men near the 33rd Street PATH Station in Manhattan.
The incident occurred just days after another gay couple was beaten near Madison Square Garden following a New York Knicks playoff game on May 5.
At around 5 a.m. Friday, the two men tried to get into an after-hours billiards hall on West 32nd Street but were not let in, police said. They were then approached by a group of approximately five others who proceeded to shout anti-gay slurs and beat the men, police said.
The men tried to get away, but the suspects followed them to the PATH station entrance where the attack continued, police said.
Port Authority Police Sgt. Michael Thomas was in a patrol car and saw the attack and broke it up with the help of police officers Dwight Clark and Matt Vogelman.
Two of the five men were arrested; the others fled.
Both victims, who were not identified, suffered severe facial injuries and were treated at Bellevue Hospital. One of the victims underwent eye surgery as a result of the beating.
The two victims asked police to release photos so they could get the public’s help finding their attackers.
“You’ve gotta bring attention to what’s happening. Not enough people know; they don’t see these things are actually going on,” gay rights activist Cara Lloret told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider.
The suspects were identified as Asllan Berisha, 21, and Brian Ramirez, 21, both of New York City. The men were charged with the hate crime of felony assault and were processed by the Port Authority Police.
On May 5, Nick Porto and his partner, Kevin Atkins, were beaten near Madison Square Garden after a group of men wearing Knicks shirts called them anti-gay slurs.
“There is no word to describe the pain. The attack is on all of us. This crap has got to stop,” Porto told CBS 2 on May 7.
In reaction to Friday’s attack, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn fired off a missive to all New Yorkers.
“There was a time when our city was plagued with hate crimes. We are never going back to that place. That is not what New York is about,” Quinn said.
Other community leaders also asked for the violence to stop.
“The message to New Yorkers is that we will not tolerate hate, violence in this city and we need everyone’s help to address this violence,” said Ejeris Dixon of the Anti-Violence Project.
New Yorkers told CBS 2’s Schneider they, too, are disgusted by the attacks.
“I think it’s so unfair to have people judged for their sexuality,” one person said.
“It’s unbelievable that in this year we’re still dealing with this – people being beat up for just being themselves,” another said.
“You don’t do that because of sexuality. Just because they’re walking down the street doesn’t mean you taunt and tease and do anything to them,” added Clayton Maldonado of the Bronx.
The PAPD is working with the NYPD to see if there is any connection between Friday’s attack and the one that occurred on May 5.
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