QRRally05.16.13 - Activists and members of the LGBTQ community protest outside Madison Square Garden in-response to a string of recent anti-gay assaults
TONIGHT'S RALLY AND MARCH HOSTED BY QUEER RISING AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN DREW OVER 200 PEOPLE AND COMMUNITY LEADERS, IN RESPONSE TO RECENT ANTI-GAY HATE CRIMES
New York, NY -- Over 200 people and several key community leaders attended a rally and march this evening outside the Knicks' game at Madison Square Garden. Queer Rising — a grassroots organization created to demand full equality for all queer people through nonviolent direct action — sponsored Queers Take Back the Night: A Rallied Response to Dual Hate-Crimes, a rally and march in response to a string of anti-gay assaults in the Madison Square Garden area.
Supporters gathered at 7:00pm at the southwest corner of 7th Ave and W. 33rd St and distributed flyers to Knicks fans and passersby about the attacks. At 8:00pm (concurrent with the start of the game), community leaders addressed the crowd outside the arena, followed by a peaceful march down 8th Ave through Chelsea ending in Jackson Square Park.
Speakers at the rally included civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland, Marriage Equality USA Board President Cathy Marino-Thomas, the Reverend Mark Erson from St. John's Lutheran, plus Tasha Amezcua from the Anti-Violence Project, Raven Koch from the Center for Anti-Violence Education, Miss Stonewall 2013 drag performer Frostie Flakes, Jeton Ademaj from Queerocracy, and Queer Rising co-founder and rally coordinator Eugene Lovendusky.
"I can't teach you a punch or a strike right now," said self-defense instructor, Raven Koch from the Center for Anti-Violence Education, "But I can tell you something you can always carry in your pocket... and that is that you are worth defending!"
Queer Rising co-founder and rally coordinator, Eugene Lovendusky adds "All New Yorkers have the right to feel safe in their neighborhoods. It is the responsibility of the Knicks to condemn anti-gay violence by their fans and protect New Yorkers at and around their events."
One hate crime occurred after the Knicks game on Sunday May 5, along 8th Ave in front of Madison Square Garden. At the time, two men were holding hands when they were taunted with gay slurs by men wearing NY Knicks jerseys. The couple was thrown to the ground, punched and kicked. One man sustained a broken nose and the other a broken wrist. Police have made no arrests, but are seeking four men who may be involved.
A similar incident occurred days later one block from MSG, when two men were physically attacked and chased to the PATH station on W. 33rd Street, where the attack continued. Two people were arrested in that incident, but others got away. Victims sustained injuries to the face and eyes.
The Anti-Violence Project has denounced two other recent assaults, including one that occurred last Wednesday nearby the West Village gay bar, Pieces.
It is the position of Queer Rising that in New York City today, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers have the right to safely walk around their city or show public affection without fear of violence.
"With the coming out of openly gay NBA player Jason Collins, gay people can play basketball to thousands of fans inside Madison Square Garden, but they still can't hold hands safely outside it without being taunted or physically attacked," says Queer Rising member, Brandon Cuicchi.
The attackers of the May 5 incident have yet to be found, though video of the suspects has circulated the internet. Authorities are asking anyone who recognizes the suspects in this video http://www.ibtimes.com/gay-bashing-knicks-fans-exposed-video-police-investigating-hate-crime-outside-madison-square-garden to call 800-577-TIPS.