Charges Filed In Stonewall Attack

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 - 2:47pm

Patrons shocked after incident inside bar considered birthplace of the gay rights movement.

A patron at New York's Stonewall Inn, a powerful symbol of the gay rights movement since protests over a 1969 police raid there, was tackled to the floor and beaten in an anti-gay bias attack over the weekend.

Two men were arrested in the early Sunday beating, which came little more than a day after a group of male friends bidding an affectionate good night to each other were attacked in another anti-gay assault elsewhere in Manhattan, prosecutors said.

The attacks came amid heightened attention to anti-gay bullying following a string of suicides attributed to it last month, including a New Jersey college student's Sept. 22 plunge off the George Washington Bridge after his sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room was secretly streamed online.

In New York City, hate crimes are up over 50 percent from this time last year, a fact NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne says should be looked at from a broader perspective.

"While one bias crime is one too many, the numbers still reflect a harmonious city considering the fact that New York is the nation's largest urban center and the world's most diverse one," he said.

The attack prosecutors described at the Stonewall Inn especially galled and saddened gay rights advocates, some of whom wondered whether a place known for a defining moment in the history of gay rights might spur a new push for tolerance.

For Stonewall owner Bill Morgan, the episode was a sharp and upsetting contrast to its legacy.

"We at the Stonewall Inn are exceedingly troubled that hate crimes like this can and do still occur in this day and age. Obviously the impact of these men's violent actions is even deeper given that it occurred on the premises of the Stonewall Inn," he wrote in an e-mail.

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