When the New York Knicks took on the Indiana Pacers Sunday night, another fight was taking place outside.
Police have released a video of eight men allegedly involved in a hate crime that occurred on Eighth Avenue outside Madison Square Garden. Nick Porto, 27, and his partner, Kevin Atkins, 22, were beaten by a group of Knicks fans who shouted homophobic slurs at the couple, DNAinfo reports.
"They called us f----ts," Porto said describing how the alleged assault began.
Porto and Atkins were walking arm-in-arm when a group of men in Knicks jerseys began shouting at them. When Porto responded to the group of men, and asked why they were yelling, things turned ugly.
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"Fists started flying. I was on the ground, and the only thing I could do, I reached out and grabbed someone's hair," Porto said.
The two men were taken to Bellevue Hospital, where Atkins received treatment for a broken wrist.
Porto blames himself for his partner’s injuries.
"I'm so upset — it's my fault, I spoke back to them — that Kevin was hit. He didn't deserve it whatsoever," Porto said.
Police described one of the suspects as a six-foot tall Hispanic male with brown hair and a tattoo on his left arm. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, jeans and a Knicks No. 7 jersey, Gothamist reports.
The incident comes weeks after NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay in Sports Illustrated. The 34-year-old became the first openly gay athlete in a major professional sport.
Despite the perception of growing tolerance, statistics show that hate crimes against the gay community remain widespread.
The FBI found that 20.8 percent of all hate crimes committed in the U.S. are based on sexual orientation bias.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips on Crime Stoppers' website or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are confidential.