From The New York Shitty Inbox: Another Anti-GBLT Incident?

Given that much of last night’s Community Council meeting was about both anti-GBLT violence and violence against woman in general you can imagine how disturbed I was to receive the following email this morning from a woman who appears to have experienced just these things as the previously-mentioned proceedings were coming to pass. Anonymous writes:

Hello Miss Heather,

I wanted to share my story with you.

Last night around 8pm, I had just finished having dinner with my girlfriend near N 4th and Kent.  Our scooters were parked outside where visible.  After dinner, we stepped into the Duane Reade only to come out to find a young man dragging mine about 5 feet from where I had parked it.  His car now occupied my previous space, and I was now in an illegal spot.

I confronted him immediately, assuming this was a minor.  He proceeded to become worked up – arms flailing, screaming and getting too close for comfort.  He threatened to hit me, then proceeded to call his mother who lived nearby to come “beat my ass” then turning my accusations into “racial profiling”.

The scooter’s wheel was thrown out of alignment, which I attempted to show him before his excitement got to be too much and a few passersby got involved, asking him to calm down and show respect.

These next events all happened very quickly, so I might not have them in the correct order.  After a few minutes and calls to 911 already rolling, he then pushed one of the men who had stepped in to defend me, and the man immediately restrained him.  When the man released him, the suspect went to his car and removed an aluminum baseball bat and went after the man who had hold of him.  Another bystander, managed to grab the bat from the suspect mid-swing.  Within moments, an SUV full of teenagers rolled up.  4 boys jumped out of the car, 2-3 girls remained in the back seat.  Had 20-30 bystanders not stayed close to my girlfriend and I, I have no doubt that this group would have turned the situation very ugly.

The suspect panicked as more people were calling 911 and reporting his license plate number.  My girlfriend standing in front of the driver side of the car was nearly run over when he sped away from the scene.

He stopped 3 blocks away and stayed there wandering with his group of friends. My girlfriend was near the suspect keeping an eye that he remained there so we could send the police to apprehend them.

After 45 minutes and likely dozens of of calls to 911, the police from the 94th Precinct FINALLY arrived – one cruiser, two officers.  Our suspect situated just up the street.  When asked what had taken so long, that this was a call to a violent act, they claimed that they were reporting to a “car accident” and that they were the only officers patrolling the ENTIRE Greenpoint/Williamsburg area.

When I asked them to go to N 6th Street (the low-income housing area of the water-front condos) to find the suspect, they were excessively unmotivated.

I had 5 witnesses – people I didn’t even know – stay at the scene for an hour with me.  This call wasn’t urgent?  The known suspect 3 blocks away did not elicit a quick response to detain him?

Meanwhile, my girlfriend was being circled and verbally assaulted by these teens.  Some of the comments were hate comments directed to our being gay.

The police finally made their way up the street (after other passersby continued to stop and say, the boys who did it are over there).  The police missed the group and my girlfriend was able to flag them down.  Myself and the witnesses ran to N 6th to ID the suspect, who’s mother had joined him outside.

She seemed reasonable and provided me with information to have any repairs taken.  At that time, the police said…

“Well, if that’s all, then we are the only guys out tonight and need to get out of here.”  No police report, no opportunity to press charges?  It still was not clear whether or not he was a minor (a bit of information that would greatly impact my decision whether or not to take things further). I was flustered and they left with us standing in the middle of the courtyard entrance of this low income section.

I called the precinct once we left and will go there this evening to ensure a proper report is filed with the names that were taken at the scene.

I am afraid to pass through this neighborhood, as I am pretty easily recognizable.  It goes without saying that my girlfriend is too.  She’ll be creating a separate report of her own.  We’ll likely be filing a complaint against the officers for their negligence.

After a night of running this situation through my head, there are so many things wrong with this picture.

Where are the police?  Why don’t they find property damage, attempted assault and fleeing the scene of a crime reason enough to take action?

Many reports of violence and disruption in this neighborhood describe the same suspects as were standing in front of me.  They made gay-hating comments – were they the same kids who beat Barie Shortell?  Are they the same kids I have seen smashing windows and property in the blocks surrounding this incident with baseball bats?

Thankfully no one was hurt this time.  My deepest appreciation to the many, many good samaritans in this community for getting involved – especially the ones who interrupted their nights to stay and provide a statement.

What do you think Miss Heather?  How can we make our streets safer and work to address the class and racial tensions (on both sides) that are escalating here?

This is an excellent question. One, I will add, that was more or less raised at last night’s 94th Precinct Community Council meeting by both Community Board 1 Public Safety member Tom Burrows and Lincoln Restler. I have referred this young woman to these individuals in the hope they can get some answers about what happened and some redress. As these men— along with an officer present at last night’s meeting— stated over and over:

If you see something, say something.

Miss Heather


11 Comments on From The New York Shitty Inbox: Another Anti-GBLT Incident?

  1. KAA on Tue, 21st Jun 2011 10:18 am
  2. The 94th Precinct is filled with lazy, donut eating, lowest common denominator police union trolls that are only 1/2 step ahead of the people they are supposed to be arresting

    When seconds count the police are 45 minutes away.

    You are on your own folks – Don’t ever forget it

  3. eagle_teater on Tue, 21st Jun 2011 10:55 am
  4. Let’s examine the situation:

    1) three officers off of patrol to attend the 94th Precinct Community Board Meeting
    2) CO and another officer on duty in East New York to attend a police involved shooting
    3) two officers claiming they were the only officers on duty

    That is 7 police accounted for. What is the standard allotment of on duty and on call officers for the 94th Precinct? There must be a publicly accessible blotter that will show all crime activity on the evening and who attended the calls.

  5. OldStyleNo10 on Tue, 21st Jun 2011 2:25 pm
  6. OK, the situation is defused, the mom is reasonable, and Anonymous is still pissed at those “low-income” (gee, I wonder what that’s code for) because she has no opportunity to press charges?

  7. missheather on Tue, 21st Jun 2011 2:37 pm
  8. @OldtStyleNo10: I have been in communication with this woman and there are a lot of factors to consider other than the perp’s hailing from “low income housing”. Among other things it has come to light that the man in question may be mentally ill. If that is in fact the case, the police should certainly have gotten more “hands-on”, spoken to his family, get a better understanding of his problems and make them aware of what recourse they have to get this man help.

  9. judes on Tue, 21st Jun 2011 7:52 pm
  10. She lost a lot of points with the “the low-income housing area of the water-front condos” comment. I’m with OldStyleNo10 on this one. The idiot kids gay-baited and she race-baited, but couched it in more polite terms.

  11. politikat on Tue, 21st Jun 2011 8:31 pm
  12. Hi Heather,

    I live in the condo section of the development in question. I am queer, and have been really upset at the recent gay-bashing in Williamsburg.

    Can you forward my contact information to the person in question?

    Thanks, Politikat

  13. missheather on Tue, 21st Jun 2011 10:08 pm
  14. I have given this whole matter a lot of thought and have talked to a number of people about it. Boy, have I ever! Here are a few observations:

    Race (I prefer to see this as a class issue) and Gay-baiting are secondary issues. Rather, it is one of police response time (which appears to have been accounted for) and how this situation quickly escalated. I for one am very disturbed by the latter and see this foremost and above all as yet another indication of the disconnect between the newer, more affluent residents and older, less affluent residents. The reality is we cannot put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak. We all have to learn to live with each other— and when we can’t it becomes the role of our police department to moderate these disputes so they do not escalate or become a series of incidences.

    Given the half of the story I have been given, this does not seem to have happened. In addition, this person (whose terminology I too am not terribly keen on, I will add) does as a queer resident have every reason to be nervous given that a rather brutal gay-bashing came to pass one very short block away. Then of course you have what happened here in Greenpoint to consider: obviously there is a problem.

    It is not my desire to take sides. There is simply not enough of the story to do this. However, people be they gay, straight, rich, poor, white, non-whites, etc., should know that being called epithets is unacceptable and if our police department did not handle the situation in a manner he/she/they considers acceptable they should go through proper channels. It is my understanding this person has done just this. We’re all neighbors. We need to live with each other because quite frankly if we don’t I see this kind of thing happening more, not less. If this means that the residents of these buildings conduct community meetings to get to know each other and act in their common interests (and there are plenty), so be it. If a larger, public forum is held where all people can sit down with our elected officials, police department, etc. to make this happen, that’s cool as well. The goal— and I think everyone can agree upon this— is to prevent this kind of anger/mutual resentment from reaching the boiling point. We’re talking about a parking space here!!! In all probability there were mistakes made on all sides. But can we learn from them and become neighbors? That’s what I would like to see.

  15. AliHajiSheik on Wed, 22nd Jun 2011 10:27 am
  16. The mom apologized and that makes up for a guy trying to beat people with a baseball bat and groups of teens threatening and taunting a vulnerable minority? The low-income housing section comment, as I read it, was intended to demonstrate that she identified where the suspect lived from and direct the police to his home. I don’t see any race baiting, just people sticking up for a violent delinquent and his delinquent friends that make the neighborhood unsafe and unpleasant.

  17. politikat on Fri, 24th Jun 2011 11:29 am
  18. Hi Heather,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I’ve been thinking a lot about this too.

    Regarding police response, I completely agree. I personally believe the baseball bat wielding gentleman should have been arrested for assault, and they should have been there 5 minutes after the first call. FYI, residents at all three waterfront developments are putting pressure on our management to address safety in the neighborhood. Nobody wants to live where there are folks who think that they can settle a parking dispute with a baseball bat.

    Regarding race/class baiting, Anonymous never named a race in her original letter; there are all races, including white, where the perp lives.

    A few notes: I’d like to say the residents of the waterfront developments are not all newcomers to the neighborhood. I had my first art studio in Williamsburg in 1993, when there were absolutely no restaurants or bars (except for Oznots), just a small number of artists with cheap studios. I happen to be a queer woman of color, was a starving artist in my 20s, and now in my 30s have had enough wherewithal to become an evil condo yuppie. But I wanted a development that was progressive – green, union built, that didn’t displace anyone through eviction, and had an affordable housing component to help economically diversify the neighborhood.

    So I would say to the folks who resent the waterfront developments – that you should get to know us before making judgments.

    Ironically, my progressivism around buying into a housing development that is 80 percent condo, and 20 percent “middle-income housing” has led me to a very strong sense of responsibility over how a few bad apples in the lower income section may behave in the neighborhood.

    Finally, regarding gay-bashing, for me, it IS the issue. Some people are safer than others walking down the street. Every new incident makes me ask – “am I next?” – because we are the more frequent target of choice. I don’t think straight people quite get the same level of fear on a cellular level that occurs every time I pass by a group of teenage males (although certainly we have all felt fear on the street at some point.) Violence is quicker to come if the parking dispute is with someone who visibly signals that they are LGBT.

    I personally have been spit on in my short-lived butch phase for some kids fixing for a fight, and I’ve had numerous close friends gay bashed. Of course the absolutely brutal Barie Shortell gay bashing in March is the context why I feel so edgy around this incident.

    Anyway, more food for thought. By the way, I do love your blog.

    All my best, Politikat

    PS. In many LGBTQ circles, “queer” has supplanted “LGBTQ” or “gay” as the self-label of record. Since I’m not a guy I’m not gay, and it is ridiculous to have to say so many syllables in “LGBTQ” when describing one’s sexual orientation.

  19. missheather on Fri, 24th Jun 2011 2:36 pm
  20. WOW— and thanks for the thoughtful comment and the reminder! I will bump along your contact info to the woman who contacted me later today. I got a little distracted with all the problems with my site this week. Thanks for being patient!

  21. politikat on Sat, 25th Jun 2011 11:06 am
  22. Thanks, missheather, appreciate it!

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