The murder of a gay man in Greenwich Village, mere blocks from the historic Stonewall Inn that has served as a rallying point for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, rights for decades, is just the latest incident in a flare-up of anti-gay violence in New York.
“This clearly looks to be a hate crime,” New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at a press conference Saturday, according to the New York Times.
A gunman reportedly shouted anti-gay slurs at Harlem resident Mark Carson (whose name has also been reported as Marc Carson), 32, and his companion, before shooting Carson in the cheek Friday. Police have arrested a suspect, Elliot Morales, 33, in connection with the crime.
New York state’s Hate Crimes Act of 2000 created stiff sentencing guidelines for crimes motivated against persons of a particular race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or disability, as noted by Sarah Lawrence College.
The gunman appears to have been looking for trouble. Shortly before the shooting, the gunman was seen urinating outside a restaurant nearby. Afterward, he threatened the restaurant’s manager and bartender, saying he would shoot them if they called the police, and displayed a gun that police say was used in the killings. He also used homophobic slurs in the restaurant.
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The gunman and two companions then ran into Carson nearby, and again used anti-gay language, including asking Carson, “What are you, a gay wrestler?” according to the New York Times.
New York City Council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine C. Quinn addressed the crime on Twitter Saturday:
This kind of shocking and senseless violence, so deeply rooted in hate, has no place in a City whose greatest strength is its diversity
— Christine C. Quinn (@ChrisCQuinn) May 18, 2013
On Saturday night, a crowd of people came to a candlelight vigil at West Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue, near the site of the murder:
“This is not only about a hate crime; this is also about gun violence,” one speaker at the vigil said.
New York has been experiencing a rash of anti-gay violence in recent months. Earlier this month, a gay couple was beaten by a group of men shouting homophobic slurs outside Madison Square Garden. The New York Police Department released a video of eight men allegedly involved in the crime.
According to Police Commissioner Kelly, there have been 22 bias-related crimes in New York thus far in 2013, compared with just 13 over the same period in 2012.
On Monday evening, LGBT groups, including GLAAD, and public officials, such as Quinn, will be marching through the Village to rally against the recent spate of violence. The march will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street and continue to West Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue, near where the shooting took place.
“While our community has made progress, this is a stark and sobering reminder of the rife homophobia that still exists in our culture,” GLAAD national representative Wilson Cruz said in a statement. “These crimes are intended to scare and silence LGBT people, however as a proud New York native, I am confident that our community and our city will not be silenced, but will rather come together to stop this rash of senseless violence.”