By Bill Parry
The Jackson Heights LGBT community is reeling and beginning to mobilize following two separate and vicious attacks this week. .
Just after midnight Monday morning,, a 23-year-old gay man was chased, kicked and beaten with a pipe, sexually assaulted and robbed by three men yelling anti-gay slurs near 83rd Street and 37th Avenue, according to police. The suspects fled and the victim was hospitalized.
Early Sunday morning, a 35-year-old transgender woman was viciously beaten on 93rd Street near 37th Place, police said. The victim was attacked following an argument with a man outside her apartment around 4 a.m. and her head was repeatedly slammed into the sidewalk and curb, police said. The suspect fled north on 93rd Street and EMS took the victim to Elmhurst Hospital Center in critical condition.
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force was called in to investigate both attacks. After determining the victim knew her attacker, police say the case is now being investigated as a domestic assault. The sexual assault of the gay man is still being investigated as a hate crime, according to the NYPD.
“I am shocked and outraged by these two atrocities that occurred just hours apart,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “The survivors of these attacks may have been targeted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. If true, these attacks are attempts to strike fear in the heart of the LGBT community and the neighborhood at large. We will not tolerate hate.”
On Tuesday evening, transgender activists rallied on 90th Street and Roosevelt Avenue before marching to the scene of the woman’s attack. Earlier in the day they visited her and reported some improvement.
“She was speaking for the first time since they took her off life support,” rally organizer Jennifer Louise Lopez said. “The doctor said it’s a very good sign, a first step to recovery.”
Bianey Garcia-D la O, an organizer with Make the Road New York, disputed the NYPD’s finding after talking with the victim,,
“She told me she didn’t know her attacker and that she knows it was a hate crime,” Garcia-D la O said. “We are demanding a stop to hate crimes against transgenders.”
Lopez, the executive director of Everything Transgender in NYC, promised more rallies would be held “to keep the pressure on the NYPD and the DA” until an arrest is made. The suspect was described by investigators as a Hispanic man age 30 to 35. He is described as 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds and he was wearing a black hoodie and dark pants, according to the NYPD.
State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said he was both saddened and appalled by the two attacks.
“There is no space for violence in our community and such abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated,” he said. “In Jackson Heights, we pride ourselves on our culture of diversity and acceptance, We must never let hate or violence win out over tolerance and peaceful resolution of differences. We must always remain committed to maintaining the peace and culture of acceptance for which our community is known.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said the “vicious and brutal” attacks have put the community on alert.
“It is beyond logic that a person would attack another because of their sexual orientation or gender expression,” he said. “These are crimes committed in the name of hate. I hope that these perpetrators are soon apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr