Extensive Media Coverage of Brutal Attack on Gay Man in Queens

Media coverage of the vicious beating of a gay man in Queens, which we mentioned in yesterday’s blog about the state of federal and local hate-crime legislation, has greatly expanded since the arrest of the second attacker and the release of footage from a surveillance camera that captured the assault.

Jack Price, age 49, was attacked at 4:30am last Friday, October 9th as he left a deli near his home in College Point, Queens.  The New York Times’ CityRoom blog reported that 26-year-old Daniel Aleman was arrested on Sunday, charged with assault and aggravated assault as a hate crime.  According to the New York Daily News, the second attacker, 21-year-old Daniel Rodriguez, was arrested on Tuesday in Norfolk, VA.

ABC News reported that the suspects taunted Price, who is openly gay, as he entered and exited a local bodega, yelling anti-gay slurs before proceeding to punch and kick him for three minutes – all incredibly recorded on a security camera recently installed to deter graffiti.

Price was able to stumble from the scene of the attack to his home and call police despite his broken jaw and ribs, collapsed lungs, and lacerated spleen.  He was taken to New York Hospital Queens where he has currently improved from serious to fair condition after going into a medically-induced coma and undergoing surgery.

City officials and police officers have denounced the crime across the board, saddened that such a hateful crime occurred on their streets.

According to The Daily News, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, “It’s a despicable crime.  The individual was attacked simply for his orientation, and we’re just not going to tolerate it in this city.”

Monday morning, openly lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), City Councilman John Liu (D-Queens), and openly gay state Senator Tom Duane (D-Manhattan) held a press conference about the attack outside the hospital in Flushing.  Quinn said:

“You get tired of doing these press conferences.  When someone is attacked for being who they are and for being proud of who they are, there is no other explanation for that attack than hatred and bigotry.”

Yesterday, however, friends and relatives of Daniel Rodriguez defended him, saying this could not have been a hate crime “because he has gay relatives – and even once had a gay roommate.”

Rodriguez’ sister appeared on a video report by My Fox NY reiterating that this was not a hate-motivated crime, but that her brother should turn himself in, nevertheless.

A subsequent ABC News report included a disturbing interview with Rodriguez’ friend Marcel Gelmi, who described his version of events leading up to the attack.  ABC reported, “Gelmi claims that Price had previously propositioned men in the neighborhood, and even had blown his assailants a kiss.”

Gelmi said, “I mean I don't want no man blowing me a kiss either. I mean things happen.”

The Queens Chronicle quoted openly gay City Council hopeful Danny Dromm at Monday’s press conference pointing out that this is the fourth time in 19 years that a gay man in Queens “lies near death, or actually dead, because he was beaten for being gay.”

District Attorney Richard Brown told ABC News, "This is probably the most vicious and brutal incident that I've seen, captured as it was on videotape.”

GLAAD is in close contact the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which has been engaging closely with the NYPD, its Hate Crimes Task Force, and the District Attorney’s office and is speaking with elected officials and doing community outreach. We are offering media assistance to NYCAVP and all of the local partner  organizations working on this case.

We will keep you informed of any further media coverage of this brutal attack and GLAAD's work on this issue.