Outbreak of Anti-Gay Attacks in Brooklyn and Queens, New York Continues Trend of Homophobic Violence
Brooklyn, New York – Since Sunday of last week, there have been two anti-gay bias attacks reported in Brooklyn, and another hate crime assault in Queens, according to various news sources. On Wednesday night, openly gay Kevin Kiadii, a 25-year-old freelance makeup artist and a male friend were assaulted in Prospect Park, CBS 2 reports. Kiadii, notable for lodging a sexual misconduct suit against ex-Elmo voice artist, Kevin Clash (see NewsOne story), was randomly chosen for harassment and assault by a group of five teens who were allegedly drunk and/or high. When the most aggressive of the teenagers, the one also displaying the most intoxication, confronted Kiadii with homophobic slurs, the gay man offered the youth a soda as an attempt to diffuse the situation. Undeterred, the assailant took a “fighting stance,” in Kiadii’s words, and when Kiadii told him to back off, the youth jumped at Kiadii and said “‘I’m going to [expletive] you up’ and do this and ‘you F and [expletive].’” Kiadii took a perfume bottle from his bag and wielded it like a can of pepper spray to back off his attackers. “One of the dudes tried to kick me in the face, but just missed and he got me in my shoulder,” Kiadii said. Kiadii managed to get off a 911 call to police, handed his phone to a bystander, and wrestled with his main attacker, who left Kiadii with an injured hand, cuts and bruises. Speaking to the New York Post, Kiadii said his ploy with the spray bottle of perfume may have prevented something much worse from happening to him. “If it wasn’t for my Dior bottle, I’d be in so much damage,” he said.
The police responded quickly, arresting four youths ranged in age from 13 to 18 years of age, and a fifth suspect who is 21. Charges have been filed against the teens and the 21-year-old for harassment as a hate crime, and the prime assailant faces charges of aggravated assault as a hate crime, according to The Advocate. Expressing his appreciation for the swift action of the police, Kiadii is thankful that he was not more seriously hurt. Still, the assault has left him shaken but determined to broadcast what he had to face, so that others will not have to endure an anti-gay attack like his. “I’m appalled. I’m in awe,” Kiadii told CBS 2. “I just really want my story told because I know there a lot of people in the city who deal with stuff like this.”
Police are also searching for an unidentified Brooklyn suspect who punched a 27-year-old gay man twice in the face on the J Train at approximately 11:45 p.m. last Sunday, May 26. The assailant hurled anti-gay slurs at his victim as he carried out the attack, according to DNAinfo. The suspect fled out the back of the subway car to escape arrest. Police described the suspect as a man in his mid-to-late-20s, 6 feet tall, with dark hair tied in a bun. He was last seen wearing a blue denim jacket, police said. The New York Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force is carrying out the investigation. The subway assault and investigation were announced by the New York Police Department on Friday of this week. Also reported this week was an earlier bias-related attack upon a woman in Queens on March 17 of this year. Police say that the suspect approached a 49-year-old woman, cursed her with homophobic epithets, and punched her in the face before fleeing the scene. He is described as between the ages of 20 and 25, five feet four inches tall, 140 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. At the time of the assault, the attacker was wearing a small mustache. The suspect reportedly has been sighted in the area of the 115th Police Precinct. No explanation has been given for the lateness of the report on the Queens attack as of this report.
Anti-gay violence is spiking alarmingly throughout New York City. Better than 30 incidents of anti-LGBT hate crimes have been reported this year, one of them a fatal shooting, easily doubling last year’s statistics for anti-gay attacks during the same time period.
“We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.” ~ President Barack Obama
We at the Unfinished Lives Project join with Americans everywhere in support and solidarity for the families and loved ones of the fallen in Aurora, Colorado.
According to her brother, Hilario Chapa, Kristene is now in rehab and is “doing awesome.” NBC Latino reports that Hilario, a tech sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, is astounded at the progress his little sister has made since someone attempted to kill her with a high caliber hand gun, and left her for dead in the tall grass of the state park. Hilario relates that in the last days of her hospital care, friends were allowed to visit her, and “she lit up” when she saw them. Kristene faces a long medical recovery, and just as challenging a recovery from the loss of her girlfriend, Mollie. “She’s in neurological rehab, getting her speech and her way of thinking better,” Hilario told NBC Latino. “She also is in physical therapy to help strengthen her left side and mental therapy as well.”
Initially reluctant to let Kristene know that Mollie had not survived the attack, the family finally let her know that Mollie was dead. Police specialists and Mollie’s family were present to help break the news to Kristene. “With that support group we passed the info to my little sister,” Hilario said. “She was brokenhearted, very upset.” Hilario went on to say how difficult it was to know how to comfort his sister. “They told us you have to let her cry. I didn’t want to tell her not to cry. But Mollie’s father (Mario) is a very good man, considering he lost his daughter.” Grateful for Mr. Olgin’s support for his sister, Hilario says, “He comes to visit her and when he does she gets emotional but he is supporting her. He wants to go visit her in rehab.”
Portland Police released the information that Kristene was the previously unidentified eyewitness who aided them and the Texas Rangers in creating both the first and second renderings of the attacker’s likeness. She was reportedly eager to help authorities apprehend the person who killed Mollie. The suspect is a 5-feet-8-inches tall, 14o pound Anglo male, with brown hair and a scruffy beard. Kristene’s assistance with the sketch has prompted great public interest in finding the man who shattered the Portland community’s peace of mind, and set the South Texas LGBTQ community on guard against a possible hate crime. Police authorities have repeatedly said that the attack did not appear random, but they have declined so far to support an anti-gay hate crime motive for the shooting. According to friends and family, Kristene and Mollie had been in a five-month love relationship at the time of the assault.
Portland, Texas – A police sketch of the attacker who killed a lesbian teen and left another gravely wounded was released to the press late on July 4, according to MSNBC and the Dallas Voice. The lesbian teen couple, Mollie Olgin and Mary Chapa, were shot sometime after midnight on June 9 at Violent Andrews Park in Portland, Texas. Olgin, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene. Chapa, 18, remains under hospital care at this time.
The suspect’s likeness was developed by an unidentified witness, and according to the Portland Police Department is an Anglo male in his 20s, 5 feet eight inches tall, 140 pounds, and is described as “skinny.” Chapa, who survived the attack, has not been interviewed by police investigators because of the seriousness of her medical condition. At this point, the department is still investigating Olgin’s murder as a general homicide, and Chapa’s attack as an aggravated assault.
Police have been at pains to downplay any connection between anti-gay bias and the crimes. LGBTQ community members have up until this point maintained a “wait-and-see” position, but remain guardedly skeptical. While Police Chief Randy Wright says that there is no evidence of a hate crime in this case, no robbery or sexual assault motive has been suggested in this brutal attack, either. As Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, says in The Advocate, whenever LGBTQ people are killed or attacked with no announced motive, anti-gay bias must be considered a “top-tier” motive for the crime. Besen, who traveled to Portland for a recent vigil, does not mince words when it comes to the responsibility of local police to pursue hate as a trigger for this attack.
MSNBC reports that the couple, lovers for approximately five months at the time of the attack, had planned to spend time together at the popular park before going out for a movie on the night before their bodies were discovered below an observation deck in tall grass. Witnesses said that they heard two loud cracks around midnight on that night, but did not report it since they believed the noises were firecrackers. Several people were in the area on the evening of June 9, and police have been questioning them as potential witnesses.