On Friday night, Mark Carson was walking with a male friend in the West Village when three men started following them. “Look at these faggots,” one said, before taking out a revolver and shooting Carson in the face, according to charges filed Sunday. The 32-year-old was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at Beth Israel Hospital.
A march is being held for Carson at the LGBT Community Center in the West Village tonight, starting at 5:30. But those rallying aren’t just protesting Friday night’s despicable violence–Carson’s death was one of five anti-gay assaults in Manhattan this month.
On May 5, Nick Porto and Kevin Atkins were attacked near Madison Square Garden by four men shouting anti-gay slurs. On May 8, a victim leaving Pieces, a Christopher street gay bar, was attacked by two men. On May 7, yet another person was assaulted by someone spewing anti-gay garbage in Union Square, according to the Anti-Violence Project. Just two days later, two gay men were beaten at 5 a.m. in Midtown. They survived.
While national hate violence stats have decreased in the last few years, anti-gay violence in New York increased by 13 percent between 2010 and 2011, and 11 percent between 2009 and 2010, according to the Anti-Violence Project. The last year’s numbers aren’t yet available, but LGBT advocates say the frequency of recent violence cannot be ignored.
“Our hearts grieve for Mark’s loved ones. While our community has made progress, this is a stark and sobering reminder of the rife homophobia that still exists in our culture,” said Wilson Cruz, a spokesperson for GLAAD, in a statement.
Glennda Testone, the executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center on West 13th Street, told the Times that despite “growing approval of the L.G.B.T. community,” locals have been reporting that assaults occur more often on weekends, when bridge-and-tunnel crowds are in town.
“These crimes are intended to scare and silence L.G.B.T. people,” Cruz also said. “However, as a proud New York native, I am confident that our community and our city will not be silenced, but will rather come together to stop this rash of senseless violence.”