'Zero tolderance for gay-trans bashing'
By Leslie Feinberg
It's not just the rate of violence against gay and trans
people in New York that is on the rise. Outrage is mounting in
these oppressed communities as well.
Members of the targeted communities say it's a good thing
they are marching and holding news conferences and town
meetings to bring this bigotry-driven violence to public
attention. Because Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Gov. George
Pataki haven't uttered a single word about the wave of terror
Reports of anti-gay and anti-trans attacks in New York have
soared more than 81 percent this year. Since May at least
four-and possibly as many as seven-gay men and trans people
have been killed in Greenwich Village. All four were people of
color, and two were trans-identified.
These murders took place in the wake of six more. All of
these six were trans people. All the crimes remain unsolved by
On Sept. 9, hundreds packed a town meeting held in response.
The police commissioner passed on an invitation to attend.
Instead, Capt. William Callahan enraged those in attendance
when he claimed that this was not an epidemic of violence.
He characterized it instead as "a statistical spike."
In response, City Councilmember Tom Duane asked those in
attendance who had been the victims of attacks to raise their
hands. The room reportedly bristled with raised hands.
Since the week Callahan made that outrageous and insensitive
understatement, the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence
Project has documented 12 additional attacks. Since Aug. 25,
the AVP has received reports of 27 assaults.
On Sept. 17, Police Commissioner Howard Safir broke his
public silence on the attacks. According to the Sept. 18 New
York Times he said: "We're always concerned when there's an
attack that involves bias. But certainly we do not have an
Hundreds of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people and
their supporters marched in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on Sept. 27
to protest the alarming rise in bashings and murders. Rising
Café organized the march. A lesbian had been slashed by
two knife-wielding men on Sept. 14 as she left the
And on Sept. 17, a coalition of lesbian and gay individuals
and organizations sponsored a news conference in City Hall Park
to demand a citywide response-including calling on Giuliani and
Pataki to publicly condemn the attacks.
Those taking part in the news conference included
representatives of the New York City Gay and Lesbian
Anti-Violence Project, Gay Men of African Descent, the Audre
Lorde Project, People of Color in Crisis, the Latino Commission
on AIDS, along with City Councilmember Tom Duane and
Community leaders pointed out that a beefed-up police
presence in the West Village since the killings has consisted
of more undercover cops. They argued that these undercover
units are harassing trans women accused of being prostitutes as
part of the mayor's gentrification campaign.
Speakers announced a demonstration by the gay, trans,
lesbian and bisexual communities for Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. The
central demand is: zero tolerance for gay bashing.
The protest will begin at the Audre Lorde Project, 85 South
Oxford St. in Brooklyn, and march to Grand Army Plaza. For more
information contact the AVP office: (212) 714-2627.
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