Kelly and Bloomberg note a 70 percent increase in anti-gay hate crimes
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly informed the media today that while overall hate crimes have fallen nearly 30 percent this year, the city has seen a "significant" 70-percent surge in anti-gay hate crimes.
This time last year, there were 14 reported anti-gay hate crimes. So far this year, there have been 29.
"In the last 24 hours, there have been two additional assaults as hate crimes," said Kelly this afternoon, at a press conference at police headquarters.
At around 10:45 pm Monday, near the Bowery Mission, a 39-year old shelter resident allegedly attacked a gay man he'd known for about a month, following an evening spent drinking together.
After getting some pizza, they began discussing the fact that the victim was gay. The conversation continued on a friendly note, with the alleged assailant noting that he has some family members who were gay, too.
But then, "suddently, according to the victim, his assailant just snapped," said Kelly.
He struck his victim multiple times in the face and head, ultimately knocking him unconscious. A security guard who witnessed the event called 911.
Police are now searching for a 39-year old suspect with more than 20 priors.
About seven hours later near Prince Street, another attack took place. Police arrested and charged two men with assault in the third degree as a hate crime.
These incidents come just a couple of days after a 32-year-old gay man named Marc Carson was shot dead in Greenwich Village.
Yesterday, Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that the police were dedicating more resources to the west side, the site of several recent anti-gay attacks.
Today, Kelly and Bloomberg announced a further ramp-up in police presence.
The commissioner said he's not sure how to explain the recent spike.
"We'd love to be able to give you a specific reason as to why it's up," he said. "We just don't see it. I talked to very experienced investigators. They say generally speaking, there just is no pattern in these types of crimes."
One theory: "The spikes we experience from time to time may be related to increased reporting after a particularly terrible attack," said Kelly.
"It's not a good day in New York," said Bloomberg, concluding the press conference. "This is a sad day."