Gay Couple, Man Assaulted in 2 Separate Attacks Hours After Rally Against Hate Crimes

Police say bias crimes against gays have increased this year

A gay couple was attacked early Tuesday in SoHo and a man was beaten in the East Village, hours after thousands marched to protest the killing of a gay man and several other bias attacks that have shaken the community, officials said.

Mayor Bloomberg said at a news conference Tuesday that "New York City has zero tolerance for intolerance."

"We are a place that celebrates diversity ... hate crimes like these are an offense against all we stand for as a city, and we will do everything possible to stop them," Bloomberg added.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the two men in the SoHo attack were walking on Broadway between Prince and Houston streets at about 5 a.m. when two men started yelling anti-gay remarks in English and Spanish. The victims, 41 and 42, are Hispanic.

The men were both punched, and one suffered an eye injury, sources said.

Police said two suspects, 32 and 33, were arrested and face a charge of assault as a hate crime.

In the East Village beating, Kelly said two men who had known each other for about a month were out together in Manhattan on Monday. At some point they began fighting about the victim being gay.

The other man then became "enraged," Kelly said, and hurled anti-gay slurs before he beat him unconscious. In that case, the 39-year-old suspect, who is homeless, was arrested and charged with felony assault and aggravated harassment as hate crimes, among other offenses.

Dan Contarino, the victim, told NBC 4 New York he thought the recent spate of attacks have to do with "society changing quickly" as gay marriage becomes legal in more states, causing people with "repressed anger" to lash out. 

"I'm very lucky," said Contarino. "I could be 6 feet under right now."

The Empire State Pride Agenda said in a statement Tuesday that "enough is enough."

"No more violence. We won't stand for it as a community or as a city," said Nathan Schaefer, executive director.

On Monday evening, gay activists and supporters marched to condemn the death of 32-year-old Mark Carson in Greenwich Village, and several other attacks on gays in recent weeks.

Carson was killed Saturday as he walked with a companion through the Village. Police say a man charged with murder as a hate crime shot Carson in the head.

Officials said Monday that police would increase their presence there and in nearby neighborhoods through the end of June, Gay Pride Month.

Police say there has been a rise in anti-gay crimes overall so far this year, to 24 from 14 during the same period last year. 

Kelly said police believe bias crimes are actually underreported, but said there is one theory that the NYPD gets more reports of them after a high-profile case is in the news.

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