On June 6, members and allies of the LGBTQ community gathered on the steps of the Jackson Heights Post Office at 78-02 37th Ave. The press conference was organized by local activist Daniel Puerto, in partnership with candidate for state Senate Jessica Ramos, The Justice Committee, Colectiveo Intercultural Transgrediendo, DRUM Desis Rising Up & Moving and Make the Road NY and other local activists.
Puerto organized the event to show the community’s solidarity for Soriano, a 25-year-old gay man who was the victim of a possible hate crime. Hours after the Queens Pride Parade on June 3, two unidentified men followed Soriano and proceeded to hurl anti-gay slurs at him, before punching him multiple times and knocking him to the ground.
The event was also in combination with “National Day of Action: Justice for Roxsana” for Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender woman who died while being detained by ICE. A native of Honduras, according to a Facebook page for the nationwide event in Atlanta, Hernandez allegedly did not receive adequate health care and succumbed to illness.
Ramos, a Jackson Heights native, said that it was “infuriating” to see injustices happening and stressed the importance of educating people at all levels about the history and importance of the LGBTQ community. She added that finding similarities between oneself and people who have gone through difference experiences is crucial in this pursuit.
Several activists who spoke at the event said that increased law enforcement was not the solution to prevent these crimes from happening. Yul-san Liem, a social justice artist and organizer who works with the Justice Committee, charged that the NYPD and ICE are “not making us safer” and are in fact some of the biggest threats to LGBTQ people, especially those who are of color.
Following the press conference, attendees participated in a march from 78th Street to 83rd Street in front of the Taco Bell where Soriano was attacked. As the activists marched, they chanted in both English and Spanish.
“Que queremos? Justicia. Cuando? Ahora!” which translates as “What do we want? Justice. When? Now!”