By CBSNewYork Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Neighbors on Coney Island are calling on the city to step up efforts to protect members of the LGBTQIA+ community after a recent report reveals an alarming number of bias crimes in the city.

There was a rally on Mermaid Avenue on Friday to denounce a citywide spike in hate crimes and a recent crime neighbors say was a hate crime against a gay man.

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Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus led the group.

“They deserve to live freely without being targeted, without being harassed simply because of who they are,” Frontus said.

A 37-year old victim spoke up about his nightmarish experience while doing a good deed. He says he was feeding the homeless when he was robbed and assaulted by two suspects whom he was helping. He says the beating was so bad his left eye needs reconstructive surgery.

“Right before I was able to feed them, that’s when I got assaulted,” he said.

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Police say the assault happened on the Coney Island boardwalk back on Nov. 4 at 3 a.m. The victim says he was struck several times with a metal object and suffered serious injuries.

According to police, a 21-year old man was arrested and charged with second-degree robbery. He wasn’t charged with a hate crime.

“This shouldn’t have to happen to nobody. Man, female, anybody … Straight, gay, lesbian, whoever it might be. People are still people,” the victim said.

“It could happen to anyone. Yes, he was attacked for being gay,” one woman told CBS2’s Thalia Perez. “Who’s to say tomorrow someone’s not going to be attacked for a different type of hate crime?”

The victim says he has not been out on the boardwalk since the attack and the bills are piling up. As for more charges for the suspect, that’s up to the District Attorney’s office.

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CBS2’s Thalia Perez contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team