In response to the recent violent attacks against the LGBT community in New York, marchers took to the streets of Manhattan to raise awareness and demand action.
The tragic shooting of gay man Mark Carson this past weekend sparked the protest with signs reading “gay angel Mark Carson” and roaring out slogans like “Homophobia’s got to go” and “Hate No, Gun Control Yes.”
Candles, flowers and cards were left for the slain man at the crime scene on 6th Avenue and 8th Street.
On the night of the march, another gay man was brutally attacked. The man was identified as Dan Contarino. Four men calling him a “faggot” attacked Contarino.
“There aren’t supposed to be anti-gay hate crimes taking place almost in the shadow of the Stonewall Inn,” said political analyst Richard Socarides.
Many protesters were shocked that the crime took place in Greenwich Village, one of New York City’s more LGBT-friendly locations.
Elliot Morales was apprehended for the murder of Carson. Before shooting Carson, Morales asked him “Do you want to die here?” and “What are you, gay wrestlers?”
“It is clear that the victim here was killed only because, and just because, he was thought to be gay,” said New York City Police Department Chief Ray Kelly.
Morales is currently being held without bail and has not yet entered a plea.
“The family would like to have justice be served, so that Mark’s death is not in vain,” Carson’s aunt Flourine Bompars said as she participated in the march and described her nephew as “a loving and caring person.”
Openly gay mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and DOMA Plaintiff Edie Windsor led the march with members from other notable LGBT groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, the New York Anti-Violence organization, and GLAAD.
“We have always been a community that takes care of each other. Sometimes when no one else will. We’ll continue to do that,” said New York’s LGBT Community Center Executive Director Glennda Testone.
“We will continue to show up for each other,” she continued. “There are hundreds of us here tonight, but the truth is, that there are five hundred thousand LGBT people who come to New York because they want to live openly. They want to be who they are, they want to love, and they should be able to do that. They should be able to do that on any street, any avenue, any neighborhood in this great city that we all love.”
Hate crimes in the United States against the LGBT community have increased in the past year from 14 to 24 separate incidents. 6 attacks have been reported since May.
Asllan Berisha and Brian Ramirez attacked two gay men in New York earlier this month. Berisha and Ramirez were arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime and gang assault.
For an unsolved hate crime, the NYPD is searching for four men who assaulted two other gay men.
“The violence we’ve seen in recent weeks is a reminder,” said Testone. “It’s a reminder that political and legal gains do not always necessarily translate immediately to the street, to every street, and to every person. This is a reminder. It’s why we need to stay united, it’s why we need our voices to be strong, and we can’t go back.”
The march symbolized a coming together of the community to face such reminders and to inspire action moving forward.
“We are here today not only to mourn the loss of our community, not only to take back some of our power, and to take back that sense of safety, but we are here together, as one, to create a strong voice that says we will not be threatened, we will not be harassed, we will not be taunted, and we will not be killed because of who we are and who we love,” Testone concluded.
The march ended at the crime scene of Carson’s murder. To raise awareness and provide safety tips, The New York City Anti-Violence Project will hold a Community Safety Night on May 24.