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Shooting of gay Brooklyn resident raises question of hate crime statute

Pedestrians pass a makeshift memorial for 32-year-old Mark Carson, on Monday. Police said Elliot Morales yelled anti-gay slurs before shooting Carson point-blank in the face in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood long known as a bedrock of the gay rights movement. AP Photo

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A man was fatally wounded after being shot in the face early Saturday morning as he walked with a companion in Greenwich Village. This shooting is now being investigated as a hate crime by the NYPD.

Mark Carson, 32, a Brooklyn resident, was walking through the Village when suspected shooter Elliot Morales approached him and his friend. Police say Morales followed Carson and a companion through the Village, asking if they "want to die here," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Police said Morales then yelled anti-gay slurs before shooting Carson point-blank in the face with a .38 caliber silver revolver, according to the charges.  Morales was soon arrested a few blocks away.

"[O]ur city mourns more senseless death caused by gun violence,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), co-chair of the city council's task force to combat gun violence.

Though Carson was a victim of gun violence, it appears that the crime involved more than the criminal use of a lethal weapon.  “This clearly looks to be a hate crime, a bias crime,” Kelly said.

In 2000, the New York State legislature determined that violence based on “bias and prejudice” were on the rise in New York. To combat this trend, the legislature created the Hate Crime statute, which is invoked when a person intentionally commits a criminal act against another based on a belief or perception of race, gender, religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation. The penal law was updated to “provide clear recognition of the gravity of hate crimes and the compelling importance of preventing their recurrence.

“Hate crimes can and do intimidate and disrupt entire communities and vitiate the civility that is essential to healthy democratic processes,” the legislature wrote in the legislative notes accompanying the law.

Carson was viewed by friends a "a proud gay man. A fabulous gay man,"

Police said this is the 22nd anti-gay attack in the city this year—as compared to 13 such crimes during the same period last year. On May 5th, a gay couple was brutally attacked outside of Madison Square Garden.

"There was a time in New York City when hate crimes were a common occurrence," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a statement. "There was a time in New York City when two people of the same gender could not walk down the street arm-in-arm without fear of violence and harassment. We refuse to go back to that time. This kind of shocking and senseless violence, so deeply rooted in hate, has no place in a city whose greatest strength will always be its diversity."

May 20, 2013 - 3:00pm


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