Dozens Band Together To Combat Hate Crimes

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are rallying all day Saturday in Staten Island against the recent rash of hate crimes that have taken place in the borough.

The idea of the protest, "Take Back Your Right," came about after a gay couple claimed they were attacked at a White Caste on Bay Street in Stapleton on July 7. The couple -- identified as Luis Viera, 47, and Richard Vieira, 39 -- said they stopped at the fast food restaurant around 2:30 a.m. when a large group of black youths confronted them and uttered homophobic slurs.

Luis Viera claims one of them even hit his partner -- leaving him semi-concious and bleeding. Richard Viera was rushed to Richmond University Medical Center where he was treated and released.

Luis Viera said both he and his partner were most likely targeted because he was wearing a band on his arm declaring his sexual orientation and his partner was carrying a "man purse."

However during a late-morning rally Saturday, New York state Sen. Diana Savino made it clear that the people of Staten Island will do everything they can to combat hate crimes.

A candlelight vigil is slated to take place at 8:30 at Borough Hall, followed by a march to White Castle. Two-hundred people are reportedly expected to attend -- including many powerful politicians in the area.

The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task forces has been investigating 11 attacks since April, that took place in Staten Island. A majority of the incidents have occurred in Port Richmond and involved the brutal beating or robbing of Mexican immigrants.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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