does not compute

Why Is One of These Attacks a Hate Crime, While the Other One Isn’t?


Late Saturday night, former Village Voice sales rep Joseph Holladay was attacked on New York City’s Upper East Side by a half dozen young men in an apparent hate crime; the men were screaming anti-gay slurs while beating Holladay, who lay lifeless before a friend got him to a hospital. The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is involved in the investigation, and investigators have deemed the attack a hate crime. But a little over a week before, in the wee hours of June 19, transgender woman Leslie Mora was walking home from a nightclub in Queens when she was attacked by two men with a belt who screamed the word “faggot” at her in Spanish. According to the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, the attackers “stopped only when a passing motorist threatened to call the police.” The alleged suspects, Trinidad Tapia and Gilberto Ortiz, were arrested shortly after fleeing the scene. Except while the Queens County District Attorney charged the men with “assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon,” it’s refusing to investigate the attack as a hate crime. Under New York State Law, attacks qualify as hate crimes if they are based on actual or perceived sexual orientation.

(Thanks, Lena)

UPDATE: New York’s U.S. Sen. Thomas Duane says his office is aware of the case, and: “New York State’s Hate Crimes Law, which I fought hard to pass, clearly states that crimes in which individuals are targeted and attacked because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation are classified as hate crimes. Ms. Mora’s account of her assault appears to fit this definition. I expect the Queens District Attorney will expedite its investigation and pursue the case to the fullest extent of the law.” Not exactly a demand the DA treat this as a hate crimes case. DEVELOPING …

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  • Mark Snyder

    The inconsistency is a shame. Regardless though, hate crimes laws do nothing to protect us. They only increase prison sentences and support the corrupt prison industrial complex. There are queer organizations that are issuing statements against hate crimes legislation for this reason. Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which serves the trans community, is one of them.

  • Sean H-.

    Punishment may not be a deterrent to a crime, but for a long time it was though that the government/courts/police would support gay bashings or look the other way. The symbolism of hate crimes legislation is itself important, as well as the new training police officers may receive if there’s a new law to proect us. And locking away these morons to prevent further attacks is not bad either

  • Ian

    This is unacceptable.

    If anything, transgendered people should be protected even more, since they are most vulnerable to hate and violence against them.

    I would hope that a place like New York can reevaluate the situation and fire whoever decided that this was not a hate crime.

  • Dee

    I don’t understand,

    “Under New York State Law, attacks qualify as hate crimes if they are based on actual or perceived sexual orientation”

    Did they not scream “faggot” at her?

  • Joanaroo

    The transgender assault should definitely under the hate crime criteria. Call me uninformed, but if a straight person is assumed to be gay does this fit under the criteria because it’s an attack of a sexual nature. In high school a straight classmate was robbed and murdered because some men thought he was gay. He had a girlfriend who was devastated-that is all I know of his private life-and it was considered random and the men did not know him. Any attack of anyone is a horrible thing.

  • K

    From what I’ve researched, hate crime laws are really not that great of an idea.

    Can anyone explain to me why they may to benificial to me, on a higher level than “The person who attacks me could be punished more”? Hate crimes are still crimes, and if the crime is *fairly* judged, my preference for women shouldn’t matter. (I’m female.)

    Currently, I’d rather have laws in place to protect me from being unfairly judged. I’m just wondering if I’m missing a big piece of information here.

    I figure if anyone knows, they’ll know here.

  • Emmy

    Why hate crimes laws? Because hate crimes are terrorism. Look, when someone gets in an argument and gets beaten up, that’s a crime. When someone is targeted for being gay or trans, that makes me feel less safe in the same way that, say, a lynching in the South in the ’20’s would have made a black person feel less safe.

    Beating up a person is a pretty bad crime. Making an entire group of people feel threatened and fearful and singled out for being who they are is a much greater crime. That’s what a hate crime is.

    Got it?

  • strumpetwindsock

    Why hate crimes laws?

    Because some hate crimes don’t always involve beating someone up, but willful promotion of hatred or incitement to commit violence.

    There was just such a trial a few years ago against a man who was on a radio station during the Rwandan genocide, telling mobs where to find victims and kill them.

    And I agree with Emmy. The hate crimes designation is important for cases in which the victims are targeted because of race, gender or orientation, because (like genocide) it speaks to the motive of the crime.

  • Kay Fierce

    These guys are ridiculous. They attack gay people, as if to prove their masculinity, and yet they need to do it in group. Not only are they haters, they’re cowards.

  • dizzy spins

    Its a tricky situation. On the one hand, all acts of violence are basically hate crimes. If I beat an old person and call her grandma while I do it, is that a hate crime? What if I beat an overweight person and call him “lardass”? Do we need to start some never-ending list of categories of people mentioned in hate-crime laws?

    On the other hand, there are certain groups that are particularly targeted for assault, with gays chief among them. The real benefit of hate-crime laws is that these assaults are counted up and can be presented to authorities as proof that better police protection is needed.

  • bitchface

    Although it is true that assault of any kind is violent and motivated by hate, not everything is about beatings and murder.

    if i paint a swastika on a home or burn a cross a your yard it could be deemed trespassing and vandalism. when the reality is that i am generating a disgusting message/warning to terrify all those who see or hear of it that this group is not welcome here.

    i was attacked by 4 guys in nyc several years ago and i was surprised the lengths the dept went to and the sensitivity that was employed in dealing with it as a hate crime. this was in the midtown north precinct.

Comments are closed.