Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Couple Attacked in Heart of Gay-Friendly New York Neighborhood

NYPD sketches of suspects in Wednesday's attack on a gay couple in Chelsea.

NYPD sketches of suspects in Wednesday’s attack on a gay couple in Chelsea.

BREAKING NEWS: New York City, New York – Police have released sketches of two principle attackers who savagely assaulted a gay couple as they walked holding hands in Chelsea, one of the gay-friendliest sections of the Big Apple.  The suspects, according to CBS Local, are described by the NYPD as a black man wearing a white tee shirt, and a younger Hispanic male, probably in the 16 to 20 year old range, sporting tattoos on his arms.  The attack is being investigated as a bias-motivated hate crime by New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force as part of the wave of murder and assault taking place against LGBTQ people in New York this spring and summer.

Wednesday, August 14, shortly after midnight, Peter Notman, 53, and Michael Felenchak, 27, left the Chelsea Bowtie Cinemas on 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues holding hands.  As they walked along after turning down 24th Street, a two men shouting anti-gay slurs attacked them.  Four other men joined in the attack on the couple, according to Huffington Post coverage of the incident.  Notman said to CBS TV reporters, “It was six of them against the two of us. Typical of the cowards they are.”

One of the assailants used brass knuckles to strike the pair, and both Notman and Felenchak required hospitalization at Beth Israel Hospital, spending the entire night in the emergency room.  Notman said, “I was hit with brass knuckles down the side of my face, and I had contusions; had to have an MRI, and Michael received several stitches in his mouth where they punched us.”  Felechak required seven stitches to close his wounds.

By Thursday morning, the couple were passing out fliers and appearing before the media with local politicians to protest this latest hate crime attack against LGBTQ people.  “We have our complete faith in the NYPD — they are great guys; they’re amazing. They’re going to find the guys,” Felenchak said.

Micheal Felenchak (l) and Peter Notman (r), attacked while holding hands.

Micheal Felenchak (l) and Peter Notman (r), attacked while holding hands.

Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio, both candidates in the hotly contested New York Mayor’s race, spoke out against the rise in violence against LGBTQ people in the very city that gave birth to the modern human rights movement in Greenwich Village, not far from the site of this latest outrage against LGBTQ dignity.  “I am appalled by reports that two men were senselessly beaten in Chelsea simply because they were perceived to be gay,” Council Speaker Quinn said. “The cowardly individuals who committed this crime do not represent New Yorkers and our community will not be cowed by such violence. New York City’s greatest strength is our diversity, and we will not stand for attacks against anyone, for any reason.”  NYC Public Advocate de Blasio issued his statement to Huffington Post:  “We won’t let hate work its way into our communities. LGBTQ New Yorkers have the right to walk any street in this city free from violence or intimidation. We have to meet any bias attack against the LGBTQ community with aggressive action—both in our condemnation, and in our police response. I applaud the NYPD for doing exactly that. The community needs to know the City will meet its fundamental obligation to protect its people.”

Meanwhile, residents of Chelsea were still recovering from the news that their once highly touted gay-friendly neighborhood was no longer a safe place for gay men and lesbians to live open lives without fear.  Upper West Side resident, Corbin Reid told CBS New York, “A lot of homosexuals live here, and they feel safe here and I think they live here because they feel a sense of community. So to get attacked here is definitely disheartening, and it’s like getting attacked in your own home.” Chelseaite John Flippen said, “I suddenly have to be very aware of what I’m doing and restraining myself from anything that might draw attention and that’s no way to live. I didn’t come to Chelsea to live that way.”  Toby Berkowitz, another Chelsea resident, chimed in, “Chelsea of all places? Really? You’re here because it’s a very homogenized mix of people. We love that. But if you don’t feel safe in front of your local movie theater, where would you?”  

There have been no arrests as of press time today.  The search for the gay bashers continues in America’s largest city, where anti-LGBTQ attacks are up 70 per cent over last year.

Wilson Cruz, national spokesperson for GLAAD, summed up the outrage of the LGBTQ activist community over this latest attack, saying, “The rising number of anti-LGBT attacks around the country is staggering and needs to be addressed immediately. Nobody should have to fear simply walking down a street in their own neighborhood because of who they are.”  

August 16, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bill de Blasio, Chelsea, Christine Quinn, gay bashing, gay men, GLAAD, GLBTQ, Greenwich Village, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, New York Police Department (NYPD), Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Couple Attacked in Heart of Gay-Friendly New York Neighborhood

   

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