Police are searching for suspects involved in possible hate crimes in Jackson Heights that left one man and a transgender woman injured, the latter critically.
The first attack occurred at about 4 a.m. last Sunday when a transgender woman whose name is Ricardo Sal, who goes by Kathy, was left in critical condition by a man who reportedly beat her and banged her head against the curb repeatedly.
The attack occurred in front of her home on 93rd Street between Elmhurst and Roosevelt avenues.
She was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in critical condition, police said.
Then at 9 p.m. the same day, an unidentified 23-year-old man was chased down, beaten and robbed while three suspects made anti-gay slurs.
According to police, the victim was walking with a male companion, and when the two men parted, the victim was followed by the men.
When the man reached 83rd Street, he ran toward 37th Avenue but the group caught up to him. It was then the first suspect assaulted the victim. It was unclear if the other two also hit him.
The victim was punched and sexually assaulted.
The suspects removed the victim’s jacket, shoes, wallet and phone, according to police. The suspects then fled in an unknown direction.
The victim is in stable condition and both attacks are being investigated as possible hate crimes.
These two attacks left many in the Jackson Heights on edge and worried about the increase in crime against the LGBT community.
Pauline Park, president of the Board of Directors of Queens Pride House — a support network based in Jackson Heights — believes that moving forward police relations with transgender men and women need to improve, as well as societal acceptance of transgender people in general.
“I think people need to recognize that policing has something to do with this,” Park said. “Many trans females are reluctant to come forward to the police because they fear being revictimized. Officers assume you’re in sex work. Even if you’re not, and if you’re undocumented, there’s an additional fear being exposed.”
But to Park, the more important adjustment has to come from the way society views transgender people in general.
“The biggest thing really is for people to have an increased acceptance of trans people,” she said. “The reasons why these attacks take place are because the attackers think there will be no consequences. The perpetrator of this hate crime in particular probably thought that society believes that this trans Latino woman is worthless.
“The best protection for people is a clear message from society at all levels.”
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) also expressed shock at the recent violent crimes.
“These vicious assaults on the LGBT community are horrific,” he said. “We will not tolerate hate. Police are aggressively pursuing these cases and hopefully they’ll capture the people who assaulted them.”
As to how the Jackson Heights community will move forward after these events, Dromm said “We’ll stick together and get through this together.”
On Tuesday, Everything Transgender in NYC hosted a rally near the 93rd Avenue home of the first victim, as she remained in the hospital as of that night.