Tag Archive | "hate crime"

Hate crime suspected in city property in Kingsbridge

A New York City Police investigation is underway following a possible hate crime at the Bronx headquarters of the city’s Parks Department in Kingsbridge.

A photo posted on Amsterdam News shows an African American doll hanging from a metal chain shaped like a noose Tuesday morning.

The doll was found in the garage by an African American employee who had just returned to work after being out sick, according to WNYC.

Three years ago, the Parks Department settled a federal discrimination suit of $20 million brought by 11 current and former employees who charged that Henry Stern, the former Parks Commissioner, and current NYC Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe oversaw a racially hostile environment for Black and Latino employees.


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Hate crime stats more accessible

About a month after a brutal anti-gay hate crime shocked the Bronx and the nation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation that will require the city to post hate crime statistics on its My Neighborhood Statistics website.

On Nov. 8, Bloomberg signed two bills into law that aim to make statistics more accessible to the public for hate crimes for domestic violence incidents. My Neighborhood Statistics, which was launched in 2002 on nyc.gov, provides quality-of-life data by neighborhoods, community districts, police precincts and school districts.

“In light of the recent hate crimes in the city, any additional data to help understand and fight both hate crimes and domestic violence will be beneficial to individual neighborhoods and the city as a whole,” Speaker Christine Quinn said in a press release. “The more we can track these crimes, the more hope we’ll have to reduce domestic violence and hate crimes throughout the city.”

Although scattered hate crime and domestic violence statistics are available to the public, starting in 2011 this data can be found in a more centralized location. Information on domestic violence can be found through the Mayor’s Management Report. Hate Crime in New York State annual reports provide city and borough information.

According to the 2008 report, there were 17 reported hate crimes in the Bronx and 259 in New York City. Of the 596 reported hate crimes in the state that year, those motivated by bias against a person’s sexual orientation, like the attacks in the Bronx, was the third most frequently reported by victims, followed by anti-Jewish bias (36 percent) and anti-black bias (25). Bias against gay males was the most common of those motivated by sexual orientation and accounted for 11 percent of the total hate crimes.

Nationally, reported hate crimes and those motivated by sexual orientation have decreased, according a report released by the FBI this month. There were 1,384 less reported hate crime offenses in 2009 than 2008. Although the number of single-bias hate crimes based on sexual orientation decreased by 181, the amount of violent crimes – simple and aggravated assault – remained relatively the same.

Dirk McCall, the executive director of the Bronx Community Pride Center, believes having local hate crime statistics more accessible may help the city’s numbers-driven administration put more resources behind these issues.

“I think it’s good,” McCall said. “I think the more you know about what’s happening and where it’s happening and who it’s happening to is helpful. Bloomberg’s really big into statistics.”

Having the data available may only be half the battle. McCall said many hate crimes go unreported and that people who are victims of anti-gay hate crimes in particular often come to the pride center as a resource to discuss their options.

“A lot of people are not certain why they were attacked, or they’re embarrassed they were attacked, or they’re not ready to talk about it,” McCall said. “It’s just a matter of whether things are being reported. If they’re not being reported, [the law] is not making a difference.”

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Activists react to anti-gay hate crime

The Bronx Community Pride Center is expected to hold meetings later this month to formulate a plan to educate  the community on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

The Bronx Community Pride Center is expected to hold meetings later this month to formulate a plan to educate the community on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Photo: Nick Pandolfo

New York politicians, law enforcement agents and gay advocates expressed shock and dismay this week over the violent anti-gay assault against three men in Morris Heights, and the arrest of 11 other Bronxites this week who were charged with the crimes.

Governor David Paterson called the crimes “heinous.” Police commissioner Raymond Kelly used the word “despicable,” and the city’s openly gay city council speaker Christine Quinn said the crimes were “appalling.”

And on Oct. 14, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Quinn launched a public service advertising campaign called “Love Love. Hate Hate” that aims to “celebrate” diversity and “condemn” hate crimes in the city.

Local Bronx pastors, artists and community advocates are beginning to rally to plan a constructive response.

“The general response here among folks is shock,” said John Backe, the pastor of Fordham Evangelical Lutheran church, “and upset that this could happen and sort of puzzlement over how people can do that to one another.”

The horrific crime occurred after two other tragic anti-gay incidents this fall that captured national attention: the suicide of a Rutgers University student after he was secretly taped having gay sex and the attack on a gay man at Greenwich Village’s infamous Stonewall Inn.  The spate of hate crimes against homosexuals placed a spotlight on the numbers of hate crimes in the city.

According to reports by the FBI, in 2008, 17 percent of reported hate crimes in New York City were based on sexual orientation. And as of Oct. 13, the New York Police Department had reported a total of 22 hate crime incidents in the Bronx, although they were not categorized by motivation.

Quinn spoke for five minutes from the pulpit at Fordham Evangelical Lutheran on October 10 to the assembled congregation of 60 parishioners. The church’s previous pastor Katrina Foster, who declined comment, is also openly gay.

“In the sermon we sort of recommitted ourselves to making sure our children are being taught,” Backe said of the importance of educating the community’s youth on the anti-gay attacks. “It’s not enough to assume that kids know what they’re doing sometimes. We need to be specific and say, ‘Treating people like this is wrong.’ ”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has been active under the spotlight.

On Oct. 11, GLAAD asked Universal Pictures to remove what it believes to be an anti-gay scene from the studio’s new film called “The Dilemma.” Two days later, GLAAD announced its partnership with Facebook to try and work together to remove anti-gay comments, after “hateful” ones were posted the previous week on a page devoted to anti-gay bullying.

Activists in the Bronx believe this is a teaching opportunity for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and are also looking to capitalize.

“We need to strike while the iron’s hot before people forget this,” said Dirk McCall, executive director of the Bronx Community Pride Center. “It’s a chance for us to actually teach people about tolerance, and teach people about the LGBT community and introduce ourselves.”

McCall announced to a group of 40 attendees at an Oct. 13 pride center meeting that the center was going to work toward three goals: forming a rally, becoming involved in town hall meetings and developing a school outreach program. Bronx Community College advertised a silent March for Dignity on Oct. 28 “in light of the recent events near and around” campus.

“Our silence when a hate crime occurs, is interpreted as permission,” said Ben Stock, the president of Brainpower, a New York City non-profit organization that teaches art to LGBT homeless youth. Stock does not believe sending young people to jail will solve the problem. “We need education, and we need to live together.”

Arthur Aviles, the art director of the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, said he believes a rehabilitation program could be the answer.

“I would love it if we had some kind of system that helped them come to their victims in a way that was sorrowful, in a way that smacked them upside their head with their humanity,” Aviles said. “Going to jail? I don’t think there’s much there. They just punish you. They don’t teach you anything. They were taught some horrible things that they shouldn’t have been taught, and we should get them untaught.”

Starting Friday, print ads for the mayor’s “Love Love. Hate Hate” ad campaign are expected to be placed at 200 locations throughout all five boroughs, and campaign videos to air on local television stations and appear on screens in New York City taxis. Bloomberg and Quinn’s press release said ads will be in English and Spanish and appear until at least the end of the month.

An existing ad campaign called “I Love My Boo,” created by the New York City-based, non-profit organization the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, seeks to increase the visibility of black and Latino gay men. “Boo” is a slang term for a significant other, and the ads show black and Latino men as couples. According to the 2000 Census, 35.6 percent of the Bronx is black or African American and 48.4 percent is Hispanic or Latino. About 1,000 ads are expected to be posted in subway cars and 150 subway stations during the month.

The success of these initiatives is yet to be seen, but Stock believes the LGBT community needs to draw something positive from the anti-gay attacks.

“We’re going to take this and make something good out of it,” Stock said.

Additional reporting by Nick Pandolfo and Yardena Schwartz

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Attorneys for hate crime suspects ask for more time

Ten of 11 defendants connected to the anti-game hate crime attacks appeared in Bronx Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon.

Ten of 11 defendants connected to the anti-gay hate crime attacks appeared in Bronx Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Amara Grautski

Defense attorneys representing 10 of the 11 alleged gang members connected to anti-gay hate crimes requested more time with their clients while appearing in Bronx Supreme Court Thursday afternoon.

Lawyers said more time with the defendants, thought to be part of a gang called the Latin King Goonies, would help familiarize them with the facts of the case before pretrial hearings resume next week. Jason Foy, who represents suspect David Rivera, said he had only met his client moments before appearing in front of the judge.

“Sometimes everything isn’t clear when an arrest is made like this,” said John O’Connell, the defense attorney for Bryan Almonte. “Maybe someone isn’t as guilty as it appears in the paperwork.”

According to O’Connell, Almonte, 16, suffers from diabetes and epilepsy. He said because of this, his client is the only suspect being held in protective custody.

Almonte and Rivera were two of the young men, ranging in age from 16 to 26, arrested after allegedly brutalizing two 17-year-old boys and a 30-year-old man, whom they presumed to be gay. The initial attacks took place in the early evening of Oct. 3 at 1910 Osborne Place in Morris Heights. Later that night, some of the suspects robbed and assaulted the eldest victim’s brother in his apartment. Charges against the defendants include abduction, unlawful imprisonment and assault, as hate crimes.

The 11th suspect, Luis Garcia, was not apprehended by the New York City Hate Crime Task Force and Special Victims detectives until Thursday at 5 p.m. from his Bronx apartment on Hennessey Place.

Although the defendants haven’t been indicted, news of the crimes has provoked outrage among community members, as well as city and state officials.

“These suspects had employed terrible wolf pack odds,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a press conference last Friday. “Odds which reveal them as predators whose crimes were as cowardly as they were despicable.”

But defense lawyers tried to combat generalizations about the defendants.

“Not every one of the defendants is going to be indicted,” said Benjamin Heinrich, counsel for Ruddy Vargas. “Ruddy is as appalled as everybody else.”

Defense attorneys won’t have a chance to make their case until as early as Oct. 21, when eight of the defendants return to court. Until then, Sanders Denis, the lawyer representing Ildefonso Mendez, hopes the media will let the court system play out before making assumptions.

“Stop making him a monster,” Denis said of Mendez to reporters outside the courtroom.There is a system of justice; he is presumed innocent.”

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