NEW YORK — After a vicious anti-gay hate crime that left a young Brooklyn man, Dwan Prince, comatose and clinging to life, friends and community residents gathered for a June 28 vigil in front of Brookdale Hospital in Brownsville, the neighborhood where the event occurred.

The incident was part of a recent spate of hate crimes that have shocked New York City. On June 29, a young African American man was left with a fractured skull after white thugs in Howard Beach, Queens, attacked him and his friends. On July 1, an Asian woman was beaten and robbed in Brooklyn as her assailants spewed anti-Asian slurs.

According to the Anti-Violence Project (AVP), which monitors crimes against the GLBT community, hate crimes against gays and lesbians are up 24 percent in the past two years.

Around midnight on June 8, three men yelling anti-gay epithets attacked the 27-year-old Prince outside the building where he works. The attackers left, but returned to kick Prince as he lay on the ground, bleeding.

Curran Gaughan, a community advocate with the Brownsville soup kitchen and neighborhood center Neighbors Together, told the World that Prince would have been killed had it not been for the vigilance of a neighbor. “Omar Bascombe, a neighbor, stopped the attack,” said Gaughan. “If this other person had not stepped in he definitely would have been killed because they were not going to stop.”

Noting indifference from many elected officials and the increasing rates of anti-gay violence, organizers of the vigil compared the current situation of hate crimes against gays and lesbians to the infamous lynchings of African Americans that took place in this country up until the 1960s. “Unfortunately, in central Brooklyn there is a conspiracy of silence,” said NYC Councilmember Letitia James, speaking at a press conference.

Manuel Rodriguez, of Gays and Lesbians of Bushwick Empowered (GLOBE), took issue with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “There haven’t been any comments made by the mayor or his office on this incident,” Rodriguez told the World. “He can throw a Pride Party at the [mayoral] mansion, he waves a flag in a parade, but as far as himself, he hasn’t spoken or said a word about [the crime]. I’m very disappointed in him.”

Gaughan cited an AVP report saying that there is a hate crime against a member of the GLBT community on average of once every 12 hours in New York City alone. “New York has the reputation of a place that’s more open than the rest of the country, and that’s a kind of scary thought,” he said.

Valerie Prinez, Prince’s mother, speaking at a press conference, painted a bigger picture of why she thinks anti-gay violence occurs, especially in poor communities like Brownsville. She said living in Brownsville is really a rough life, and that too often, when people aren’t happy with their lives, violence ensues.

On the day of the vigil, a giant get-well card was presented for Prince, signed by friends and community members. In attendance were people from GLOBE, Neighbors Together, and Make the Road by Walking, a community organization in neighboring Bushwick.

The vigil attracted community support, Gaughan told the World. “Some people were really upset. The reaction was that this should not be happening in this day and age.”

“I would like to remind politicians that we have all kind of people and all kind of individuals, and that it shouldn’t make a difference whether you’re white, Black, gay, lesbian, transgender, Hispanic — we should all be treated as equal and supported as equal,” Rodriguez said.

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