Editorial: Return of anti-gay crime is disturbing
In the heart of Greenwich Village, just a few blocks from the Stonewall Inn, where the gay rights revolution began, a gay man was killed in a disturbing bias crime last weekend -- one that's sending deep shudders through a community that has recently made tremendous strides toward equal rights in New York State.
NYPD officers say Brooklyn resident Mark Carson, 32, was on West Eighth Street with a friend early Saturday when Elliot Morales shouted homophobic slurs at them and shot Carson with a .38-caliber revolver.
Police say the murder is the 24th anti-gay bias attack so far this year in New York City -- compared with 14 for the same period a year ago.
Among the other cases, police say:
A man was beaten last week by a group screaming anti-gay epithets as he left a Christopher Street bar.
Two men entering a billiards hall on West 32nd Street were beaten May 10 by men yelling anti-gay slurs.
A man and his partner were assaulted May 5 near Madison Square Garden by a group spewing homophobic insults at them.
It's too soon to say whether the attacks are random crimes -- say, by carousing, drug-addled criminals who prey on people they perceive as vulnerable -- or whether the assaults are part of a violent backlash against gay progress. But it's not too soon to pose the question.
Meanwhile, it's crucial, of course, for the city to provide a safer environment for gays, lesbians and transgendered people. To their credit, the NYPD and the city's political leadership seem to understand that. The NYPD has agreed to increase its presence on Manhattan's West Side.
And yesterday, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott held a news conference to say city schools will address the hate-crime problem as part of an ongoing anti-bullying initiative before the school year ends. Whether the crimes are cultural backlash or simple idiotic thuggery, they have to stop.