The nation was stunned last week after a thug shot and killed Mark Carson in Greenwich Village for being gay. This resulted in a Village rally that drew hundreds calling for an end to hate crimes. It appears, however, that the message did not get through to everyone. J. David Goodman reports in The New York Times today that “just hours” after the demonstration, two men were violently assaulted in separate attacks in downtown Manhattan because of their sexual orientation.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke out against the gay bashing spree, but that is no longer enough.
Aggressive steps must now be taken to stem the violence and send a tough message to would-be hooligans. Truth Wins Out strongly recommends that Bloomberg instruct NYPD to immediately begin sting operations in all of the city’s boroughs. This would involve dressing police as openly gay or transgender individuals or same-sex couples and having them walk undercover though neighborhoods. If the the NYPD actors are verbally abused in an intimidating fashion, the thugs should be arrested. If the police officers are assaulted, the predators should be arrested, charged with a hate crime, and incarcerated.
To amplify the message, NYPD should release video of their operations to news networks. The goal would be to make would-be homophobic attackers think twice before hurling an insult, swinging a fist, or shooting a gun. They should have to stop and wonder: “Is that really a gay couple or just a couple of cops?”
LGBT people and their families are entitled to walk and live in every neighborhood in New York City without fear of a menacing homophobic insult or attack. Mayor Bloomberg is in charge of the city and NYPD is responsible for our safety. The time has passed when the city can passively wait for bias crimes to occur before action is taken — because by that time the psychological and physical damage to victims has already occurred. Anti-gay hatred — like heroin or illegal gun trading — is a vice that should be combated by vice squads. Those who traffic in hate should be targeted and brought to justice without delay.
Former Police Chief William Bratton, who served under Rudy Giuliani, promoted the “broken windows theory.” The idea was that if the city allowed broken windows or graffiti on the subways, it signaled to criminals that the city was open for business. By focusing on the elimination of minor crimes, it eventually led to a decrease in more substantial crimes. This same theory should apply to anti-gay thugs and a zero tolerance policy must be put in place for New York City to stamp out this growing plague.
New York City can undercut the violence against gay and trans people — but it first has to make the decision to get serious by taking preemptive measures. Homophobic violence will decrease when criminals calculate that launching an attack is a risky proposition that may be more trouble than it is worth.