Manhattan, NY (PIX11) – City leaders and residents are responding to the spike in hate crimes in a big way.
The NYPD says it’s amping up its police presence in neighborhoods surrounding the Village as well as adding temporary headquarter vehicles stationed in the West Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.
Tonight, hundreds gathered outside of the city’s main LGBT community center on W13th Street to march in solidarity against the recent increase in hate crimes.
Five hate-based attacks have happened to members of the LGBT community in the past few weeks. The last one, turned deadly for 32-year-old Mark Carson. Carson was walking with one of his friends in the Village Friday night when a police say, a man called him homophobic slurs and brandished a gun. Barely a moment later, the killer shot Carson in the face, point-blank, killing him.
On Monday, standing in front of the makeshift memorial for Carson at 6th Avenue and 8the Street, Brooklyn resident Stu Chernoff said, “It leaves you speechless. This is the gay community, I mean, we are right in the middle of it. Its like nothing to me, I grew up in New York, but obviously, some people just can’t tolerate it.”
Terri of Greenwich Village agreed when she said, “Its terrible, its horrible. It’s going backwards, not going forwards.”
Authorities say so far, there have been nearly two dozen hate crimes this year, compared to half that, this time last year.
Today, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn denounced the alarming increase in this kind of crime.
“An increase which got to a level of violence I thought was behind us,” said Quinn.
Alongside Chancellor Walcott, Speaker Quinn announced a citywide anti-hate crime initiative in all public schools to go into effect before this school year ends.
Sharon Stapel of the New York City Anti-Violence Project says getting to the bottom of hatred means starting at the top.
“If we started with a policy, that says all LGBT people are equal, then this won’t be tolerated. But since by law, we are not all equals, then those who are hateful, are factually right in not seeing us as equals. Until the law does not allow for discrimination, we are not going to get to bottom of this violence,” said Stapel.
AVP says it’s responding by starting Community Safety Nights every Friday night through June, which is Pride month, when they will target those neighborhoods that have experienced such crimes and give people safety tips on how to protect themselves and others.