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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Headlines in Wake of Bronx Gay Bias Attacks

The Bronx--and the rest of the country--is reeling after last week's horrific antigay attacks, in which a group of men who call themselves the "Latin King Goonies" sodomized and tortured a 30-year-old gay man and two 17-year-olds they suspected of having had sex with him.

The violence comes after the suicides of five gay teenagers across the country over the last month, all of  whom were tormented in school for being gay. Yesterday was National Coming Out Day, and today, Oct. 12, is the 12 year anniversary of Matthew Shephard's death, the 21-year-old gay college student from Laramie, Wyoming, who was brutally beaten and left tied to a fence to die in 1998.

Last week's beatings took place in an abandoned building in Morris Heights, while the suspected ringleader of the gang is a 23-year-old man from Bedford Park.

"The Bronx is hanging its head in shame," this week, writes Daily News columnist Bob Kappstatter. "As if it needed another bad rap, the utter stupidity and vile hatred of some punk gangbangers gave the borough a new black eye."

He then went on to praise (most) elected officials for condemning the assaults, and the NYPD for their quick work in apprehending the suspects involved--the ninth, 22-year-old Ruddy Vargas-Perez, was taken into custody yesterday. Kappstatter calls out Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. (a well-known opponent to same-sex marriage) for issuing a statement against the attacks--but failing to once use the word "gay."

A number of other local officials voiced their disgust over the crime, including Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Paterson, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr., openly-gay City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, among others.

"Bronxites will not tolerate any form of bigotry in our borough," Diaz wrote in a statement on his website.

Meanwhile, Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for Governor, is drawing criticism from all sides for going on what even the NY Post is calling an "anti-gay rant." At a meeting with religious leaders in Brooklyn this weekend, Paladino said he didn't want children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn't."

He then went on the "Today" show yesterday and criticized his opponent, current Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, for taking his young daughters to a gay pride parade, calling the events "disgusting."

His comments will lose him a lot of votes and might even lose him the election, some analysts are saying. This editorial from the Washington Post blames antigay rhetoric from politicians like Paladino for fueling the intolerance behind hate crimes.

One of the 17-year-old victims in last week's beatings broke his silence to the NY Post yesterday, saying his attackers told him it "wasn't personal." The victim, who was a member  of the group's unofficial gang, said the men had been "like family," to him. 

WNYC interviewed residents in the Morris Heights neighborhood, where the attacks took place, who say they are appalled by the violence. 

The Bronx Community Pride Center, the only LGBTQ organization serving the Bronx, released a statement on Friday condemning the attacks.

"These terrible crimes highlight why we need more outreach in our schools, more safe spaces for LGBT youth and adults and programming to combat violence," executive director Dirk McCall wrote in a statement. The center, located in Mott Haven, runs a number of programs for gay youths and adults. Visit their website for more info.

The nine men accused in the crimes are all in custody--six being held without bail--and the last suspect is set for arraignment today. "Pending charges against them include unlawful imprisonment, abduction, sodomy, assault, robbery, and menacing, all as hate crimes," according to CNN. 

Last night, Mayor Bloomberg spoke at an awards dinner for the group PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

"The perpetrators of the abuse and torture in the Bronx will be spared no mercy," he told the crowd.


  1. Interesting comment from Daily News article:

    I wonder how many 311 calls were placed for noise complaints at Osborne Place or how many times cops were called to kick out the gang at the vacant house on Osborne? How many 311 calls by this community were closed out without the cops actually responding? Could these 311 complaints have caught these gang members and taught them that laws do exist?

  2. As a reporter, I received no fewer than four press releases from Diaz Sr.'s office in July and August asking constituents to 'pray' for the re-election of anti-gay officials, calling homosexuality an affront to the God-fearing Christian community. He is a bigot, and so is his son the BP. I will add that the letters were poorly written. Hate and illiteracy representing the Bronx....

  3. We need to rise up as a community and address what happened here. As a result, we're putting together an hour-long forum on BronxTalk about this terrible incident and all its ramifcations. I don't have all the details about guests yet, but it will include a Bronx gay leader, gang expert, crime expert, elected official, and maybe more. Viewers will be able to call in and have their say, too. Novermber 1 at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67 and Veriozon Fios 33. More details to come.


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