Despite the frigid temperatures, about 100 people turned out in Woodhaven, Queens last night for a candlelight memorial service for Anthony Callao, the 18-year-old who recently died after sustaining a fatal beating. Queens City Councilman Daniel Dromm, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and the Ecuadorian Ambassador to the United States were among the dignitaries in attendance.
Callao was not believed to have been gay, but the NYPD is investigating his death as a hate crime for now. Five suspects have been arrested, allegedly for crashing a party Callao was at hosted by two gay people. There, according to the Daily News, the “group of five started yelling anti-gay slurs” and at “least one of the suspects used a red marker to scrawl anti-gay epithets on a wall.”
Callao and others fled the party, and then the five suspects allegedly chased him down and beat him with a pipe. But the News points out that “homophobic slurs were not uttered during the chase or the beating, leaving investigators to figure out if the slurs were intended only for the party hosts, who are gay.”
This parsing of details did not seem to be on the minds of those gathered last night in Woodhaven, though, as they remembered Callao, as well as other recent Ecuadorian victims of anti-immigrant violence and LGBT victims of anti-gay beatings. Both immigrant and LGBT groups reiterated their support for each other’s communities last night, and stated that no New Yorker is safe when these types of attacks occur. Some pointed out that both Callao and Ecuadorian immigrant José Sucuzhañay were victims of anti-gay sentiment without even being gay.