QUEENS, N.Y. — New Yorkers were horrified at the recent near-fatal beating of Jack Price near his home in the College Point neighborhood. Though the two men thought to be the perpetrators are now in custody, and at least one of them is facing charges of a hate crime, many activists and leaders say that way more must be done to combat anti-gay violence in this city.
Price, who identified his attackers after the beating, is currently in a medically induced coma at New York Hospital as he is being treated for cracked ribs, a lacerated spleen, collapsed lungs and a broken jaw.
The attackers were shown beating the man for a long period of time on a nearly empty street. Twice he seemed he would be able to break free, and twice he was pulled back for more beating.
"It is horrible incidents like this that remind us that we must all stand together against those who inflict such harm," said current city Comptroller Bill Thompson, who is also the Democratic candidate for mayor.
Thompson reiterated a point that is central to his campaign: unity of working New Yorkers against all forms of bigotry and oppression is to the benefit of everyone, saying that "we must work so that our city is one where all people - no matter their sexual orientation, ethnicity, immigration status, or any characteristic - feel safe in all communities. My thoughts and prayers go to Mr. Price as well as to his family and friends."
City Council member and almost certainly the city's next Comptroller John Liu called the crime "absolutely atrocious." An ally of Thompson, Liu has built a strong relationship with the city's GLBT community, as well as trade unions, the African American, Latino and Asian communities, and white liberals.
While anti-gay violence is far from unknown in this city, even in neighborhoods considered to be gay enclaves, this beating, which was captured on surveillance cameras, has shocked people for its extreme brutality.
"You get tired of doing these press conferences," Christine Quinn, speaker of the City Council said. "When someone is attacked for being who they are and for being proud of who they are, there is no other explanation for that attack than hatred and bigotry."
Quinn was joined at the press conference by State Sen. Thomas K. Duane, Democratic city council nominees Kevin Kim and Yen Chou, as well as Liu and others.
According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence programs, incidents of violence against LGBT people increased by two percent from 2007 to 2008, "continuing the trend of a 24 percent total increase in 2007." National trends are far worse. "Bias-related murders were at their highest rate since 1999 with 29 known anti-LGBT murders committed in 2008. Reports of violence in Milwaukee increased 64 percent and Minnesota and Chicago saw increases of 48 percent and 42 percent, respectively."
In a darkly ironic twist, Price was nearly murdered on October 9, the day before the national march for GLBT rights in Washington, D.C., and President Obama's historic speech to the Human Rights Campaign in which he pledged to end the ban on gays serving in the military.