5 Face Hate Crime Charges in Brooklyn Bias Attack - NBC New York

5 Face Hate Crime Charges in Brooklyn Bias Attack

Community leaders are on edge after an apparent spike in bias-related crimes over the last few months

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    5 Face Hate Crime Charges in Brooklyn Bias Attack

    Police say five suspects face charges of assault and harassment as hate crimes after they allegedly attacked a 25-year-old man near Brooklyn's Prospect Park earlier this week.

    The arrests come as police are investigating two other attacks as possible hate crimes amid a wave of recent assaults on gay men. 

    In the most recent case, police said the suspects allegedly shouted anti-gay slurs at the victim as he walked near Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, and a fight broke out.

    The five suspects, who range in age from 16 to 21, were arrested and charged with second-degree gang assault as well as aggravated harassment and assault as hate crimes, according to authorities.

    A series of possible bias attacks over the last few months has put the city on edge. On May 18, a 32-year-old man was fatally shot in the head in Greenwich Village after allegedly being taunted with anti-gay slurs. His death sparked rallies and protests as community leaders and residents demanded action be taken to curb the apparent spike in anti-gay attacks.

    The NYPD says there have been 24 bias-related crimes so far in 2013, up 14 in the same period last year. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly encouraged victims of these crimes to come forward. 

    "We believe these kinds of biased crimes are underreported," he said at a press conference last week. "Now it's being reported, and we think that it is a good thing." 

    Meanwhile, police say Friday they are investigating two other assaults as hate crimes -- a May assault on a 27-year-old victim inside a J train passing through Williamsburg, and a March attack in Jackson Heights that left the victim bruised and swollen after he allegedly endured anti-gay taunts. 

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