In In the last four months two people were hurt and two were killed in a rash of vicious anti-gay attacks in New York City. The most recent attack happened this past Sunday morning, March 27, here in the West Village. Damian Furtch was brutally attacked by two men outside of a McDonalds who yelled anti-gay slurs. Furtch sustained facial injuries and required stitches. Just a few weeks ago the Center spoke out about another horrific hate crime incident in Queens, which claimed the life of Anthony Collao. The Center joined Anti-Violence Project (AVP) and a host of other local organizations in co-sponsoring a vigil for Collao on March 24. As reported by the AVP:
On March 12, five men entered a party in Woodhaven, Queens, shouting anti-gay slurs and brutally attacked 18-year old Anthony Collao when he tried to flee. Collao died from the injuries he sustained. Collao did not identify as gay; however, this did not stop his alleged assailants from making an assumption about his identity and targeting him for violence.
Two others were attacked in February incidents in Brooklyn and Staten Island. According to AVP on February 22, Barie Shortell, a 29-year old gay man, was viciously beaten in Williamsburg, Brooklyn by a group shouting anti-gay slurs. On February 26, Staten Island resident Ronald Jones beat and choked his friend, Robert Jenkins, to death. Jones has told police that he was driven into a murderous rage by Jenkins’ unwanted sexual advances. AVP released this statement about the incidents:
“Recent attacks in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and now the West Village shows us that violence affects all of us,” said Sharon Stapel, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project. “This is a wake-up call for every New Yorker: we must work to end violence this culture of violence—and not just violence against LGBTQ people—but all violence. We can end violence through the conversations we have, the relationships we build, and the connections we make. Together we can make our city safer for all people.”
The Center joins AVP’s Executive Director Sharon Stapel in denouncing all of these attacks, and continues to call on our community to condemn violent acts rooted in homophobia. We send our heartfelt sympathies to all of the victims and to the families of Anthony Collao and Robert Jenkins. We also remind the community that the Center is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year as a safe and welcoming space for LGBT people to be who they are. Visit our website to find out more about our lifesaving programs and services.