An Angry Community Rallies In Response To String Of Anti-Gay Attacks
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Concern and fear have been on the rise amid a spike in anti-gay violence in Manhattan, including a cold-blooded killing in Greenwich Village over the weekend.
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported Monday, the latest victim, 32-year-old Mark Carson, was shot and killed early Saturday morning by a man who first called him and his partner “f***ots” and asked if they were “gay wrestlers.”
Now, the community is rallying against hate, and police are increasing patrols in some neighborhoods – in the wake of five anti-gay attacks in the past two weeks.
“We’re angry, and we want our leaders to lead and change the situation,” said Jordan Friedman of the West Village.
Hundreds of people gathered Monday evening for a rally against hate at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, at 208 W. 13th St. Following the rally was a march to the corner of West 8th Street and Sixth Avenue, where Carson was shot and killed.
“He was a loving and caring person who is also loved and will be truly missed. And the family would also to have justice be served so that Mark’s death is not in vain,” Carson’s aunt, Flourine Bompars, said at the rally.
Doug from Chelsea held a sign from Carson’s name on it, and had tears in his eyes, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
“Everybody’s talking about hate,” Doug said. “Our community is about love.”
Others at the rally said the attacks go against the very spirit of New York City, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“It makes me angry, very angry, because I moved here 20 years ago to be myself, because New York City is a very inclusive city,” said Ricardo Tavares of the West Village. “But now, there’s all these attacks, and it makes me very angry that people are trying to scare us.”
As WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman reported, nearly every major candidate for mayor and many city council members were on hand for the rally and march.
Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act being weighed by the U.S. Supreme Court, also took part in the march.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn headed the rally.
“This is not acceptable. It’s not OK,” said LGBT Community Center executive director Glennda Testone. “The increase in violence against our community in the past month is something that we’re not going to take laying down.”
One sign read “No One Is Safe Until We’re All Safe,” Silverman reported.
The rally came just two weeks before the start of Gay Pride Month. It was at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street – just a few blocks from the site where Carson was shot and killed – where a riot began the modern gay rights movement in 1969.
“A lot of people come in from out of town to be here, so it’s very important that anyone that wants to do bad things to our community is sent the message that that’s not OK,” Testone said.
The Human Rights Campaign has also prepared an open letter to the mayors of every major U.S. city and all 50 state governors, emphasizing that anti-gay violence cannot be tolerated.
“Horror and outrage don’t fully capture what we’re feeling right now. Every LGBT person and ally who heard about this murder had an even deeper reaction: That could have been me, or someone I love,” the open letter said in part. “Imagine growing up knowing that your life could be over in an instant. That walking down the sidewalk on an ordinary Friday night, you or your friend could be alive one minute and gone the next. That’s the reality. And if it can happen in 2013 in New York City, it can happen anytime, anywhere.”
Neighborhood leaders will also hold community safety nights out every Friday, providing education and outreach to people in affected areas.
Meanwhile, in response to a request from Quinn, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has announced that the more than 1,700 public schools will hold emergency lessons about hate crimes and anti-bullying efforts before the end of the school year.
“We’re not going to go back to the times when Greenwich Village had to have escorts that led people from bars to subways so they could get there in safety,” Quinn said. “And towards that end, we are responding to this increase in anti-LGBT hate crime.”
Quinn, who is openly lesbian, said she has also spoken to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly about stepping up security efforts.
“And I’m gratified to announce that in response to this rash of anti-LGBT hate crimes on the West Side of Manhattan, between now and throughout the entire month of June — LGBT Pride Month — there will be increased police presence throughout the entire lower west side of Manhattan,” Quinn said.
She said there will be additional temporary headquarters vehicles located in Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen.
“This violence must stop, this hate must stop and it must stop now,” City Councilman Robert Jackson added.
“Hate crime is not acceptable,” added activist Cynthia Thompkins. “You can change the name LGBT – remove that. Put Jew, put black, put Asian. Hate is hate, and it doesn’t belong here in our society.”
The Shooting That Took Carson’s Life
The chain of events that led to Carson’s death had all of Greenwich Village on edge in the early morning hours Saturday. First, the suspect was spotted urinating on the street outside Annisa restaurant and bar, on Barrow Street just off West 4th Street.
The man proceeded into the bar, where he made anti-gay remarks to the bartender, Kelly said Saturday.
“He then says to both the bartender and the manager that if you do call the police, I’ll shoot you, and he opens up what is a gray hoodie, and shows what appears to be a shoulder holster carrying this revolver,” Kelly said.
Then a few blocks away at West 8th Street and Sixth Avenue, the gunman and two others came across Carson and his companion.
The gunman said, ‘Look at these f***ots. What are you, gay wrestlers?’” Kelly said Saturday. The gunman then shot Carson in the face, and he was pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital.
Elliot Morales, 33, has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon in that incident.
Morales was arrested a short time after the shooting — a few blocks away from the scene at West 3rd and MacDougal streets near the NYU campus, police said. He initially refused to give his name to police, but was eventually identified using facial recognition technology.
Meanwhile, Carson was being mourned by many. Ama Daka works at Grand Central Terminal, where Carson was a manager at a gelato store.
“It’s not right to kill somebody because he’s gay. It’s not right,” she said. “He was like my brother. I feel bad.”
David Sheridan said Carson had worked in the gelato shop for seven years.
“Mark was a great guy. Everybody – customers, people in the building – are just really upset at our loss,” he said.
5 Anti-Gay Attacks In 2 Weeks
As activists have noted, Carson’s murder comes on the heels of a series of bias attacks on gay men – although this is the first that left a man dead.
Two of those attacks occurred in Midtown. Another took place in Union Square, and another happened on Christopher Street — not far from the Saturday morning incident.
In the first incident 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. Porto spoke at the rally Monday.
On May 7, a man was assaulted by someone hurling anti-gay slurs in Union Square, according to the Anti-Violence Project.
On May 8, a man was attacked by two people shouting anti-gay slurs as he left Pieces, a gay bar on Christopher Street, according to the Anti-Violence Project.
And early on May 10, 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 fight is not over, it’s nowhere near close to being over. We have to protect each other, we have to make sure that we’re there for each other. After all this, there’s still something to fight for,” Nick Porto told Silverman at the rally Monday evening.
Kelly said Sunday that the number of bias attacks is up this year – and the number of anti-gay bias attacks in particular.
Police say there has been a rise in bias-related crimes overall so far this year, to 22 from 13 during the same period last year. The New York City Anti-Violence Project, a nonprofit group that tracks police and other reports of hate attacks against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, says its numbers rose 13 percent in 2011 and 11 percent the previous year. The 2012 figures were not yet available.
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