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Last week’s brutal beating of an openly gay College Point man has sent shockwaves through the community and led to the arrest of two men from the community who have been charged with hate crimes.
Jack Price, 49, who is openly gay, was attacked around 4:30 a.m. last Thursday as he walked home from picking up cigarettes at a 24-hour deli on College Point Boulevard at 18th Avenue, police said. Two men approached Price and began making anti-gay remarks before repeatedly kicking and punching him, police said.
Price managed to make it to his home, where he called police, and was then transported to Flushing’s New York Hospital Queens. He was listed in critical condition at the hospital, where he was being treated for a fractured jaw and ribs as well as a lacerated spleen, police said.
Daniel Aleman, 26, of 18-04 College Point Blvd., and Daniel Rodriguez, 21, of 5-02 115th St. in College Point, have been arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime and robbery in the incident, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison, she said.
Rodriguez was arrested Tuesday night in Norfolk, Virginia and waived his right to extradition, the spokeswoman said. He will appear in court Thursday.
Price’s neighbors described him as a kindly man who is always quick to help community residents in need.
“He always cooked a lot of food on the holidays and opened his doors for anyone who wanted to eat,” said Lilian Pesce, a former neighbor. “He’s a very nice person and didn’t deserve this. College Point is a safe place, but it’s not a good thing when a person can’t be safe because they are gay or black or Hispanic.”
A neighbor of Price who wanted to remain anonymous said she was mortified by the incident and that Price was targeted by his attackers because of his sexual orientation.
“These are very bad people who left him for dead,” the neighbor said. “This is disgusting what they did to him. He’s gay and this is a hate crime... it’s a gang, it’s a gang, it’s a gang. He didn’t bother anybody. If you need help, he’s always there for you.”
The neighbor said Price acted as a neighborhood handyman as well as a superintendent for several buildings.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who is openly gay, and Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) joined Council contenders Jimmy Van Bramer, Danny Dromm and Kevin Kim as well as a number of leaders from the city’s LGBT community at Booth Memorial Monday to denounce the attack.
“When someone is attacked for being who they are, and for being proud of who they are, there is no other explanation for that attack than hatred and bigotry,” said Quinn.
Dromm, a gay activist from Jackson Heights as well as a Democratic district leader, said the incident was the fourth time in 19 years a Queens man was nearly beaten to death for being gay.
“Once again, in Queens, a gay man has been brutally beaten simply because of who he is,” Dromm said. “This is deplorable. All righteous people — gay and non-gay — must speak out loudly against hate crimes because it is the only way to combat this type of violence.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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