More than 1,500 people marched through the West Village yesterday evening in response to the death of Mark Carson, who was killed Friday night by a man who, according to the police, said “look at these faggots” before shooting Carson in the face on the corner of 8th Street and Sixth Avenue.
Florine Bumpars, Carson’s aunt, thanked the crowd for its show of support, and described her nephew as “a loving and caring person.” She that his family wants “justice to be served, so that Mark’s death is not in vain.”
Nick Porto and Kevin Atkins, who were both injured in an anti-gay attack outside Madison Square Garden on May 5, also spoke at the rally.
“Gay rights is a lot more than just marriage,” Porto told the crowd. “We want to live long enough to share in the opportunity.”
Carson’s killing was the fourth suspected bias-driven crime in New York City in the last two weeks. there have been 22 such incidents so far this year, nearly double the 13 recorded by this time last year.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner in the mayoral race, was originally billed as a speaker at yesterday’s rally. But while Quinn did join the rally, along with rival candidates Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio, and John Liu, she didn’t speak, and electoral politics were largely kept out of the event.
But the prospect of Quinn’s active participation in the march provoked a sort of counter-protest by a small contingent of activists who are unimpressed with Quinn’s record. As the main rally moved south on Greenwich Avenue, marchers passed a tiny contingent of activists holding up a sign on the island intersection at Seventh Avenue. “We need a hospital, we don’t need condos,” it read.
The side-vigil raised the question of why Carson was taken to Beth Israel, on First Avenue, and whether he could have been saved if he was treated nearby. The handful of activists standing in the shadow of the building that used to be St. Vincent’s Hospital, now being converted into 350 luxury condo units, criticized Quinn for signing off on the zoning change that made this development possible, even though the City Council speaker’s brand had been stamped all over the larger march itself.
“This man was shot in the shadow of St. Vincent’s Hospital, which may have been
here today if Christine Quinn and other elected officials hadn’t sold out to real estate
developers,” said Donny Moss, who lives in the West Village. “Sure it would be nice
to have a gay, female mayor, but not Christine Quinn. She doesn’t represent us.”
“We were anxious. We didn’t know how the community would receive us,” said Louis Flores, who organized the hospital vigil. But the response was overwhelmingly supportive. Dozens of marchers broke away to take pictures with the banner, cheering and applauding at the gesture. “I think many people still resonate with what we lost here when St. Vincent’s Hospital closed,” Flores said.
But for many in attendance, the primary purpose of the rally was to recognize that anti-gay violence still happens in New York. Todd Moore, a Chelsea resident, told a Voice reporter that he was recently called a faggot and assaulted in the Garment District.
“I kind of took it in a weird way,” Moore said. “‘Let’s not report it, let’s not go after it.’ And then I wrote a little thing on Facebook about it, and it told me hey, that did happen.”
The proper response to this uptick in violence, said Glennda Testone, director of the LGBT Center, is to stand up and fight back.
“The violence we’ve seen in the last weeks is a reminder,” Testone said. “It’s a reminder that political and legal gains do not always necessarily translate to the street.” Testone told the crowd that the purpose of the rally was partly to memorialize the death of Carson, but it was also to send a message: “We will not be threatened, we will not be harrassed, we will not be taunted and we will not be killed because of who we are and who we love.”
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