The New York Police Department announced that it has arrested a suspect in the vicious attack of a man with a metal pole on Coney Island in early November.
Police said they had arrested 21-year-old Infenet Millington and have charged him with robbery in connection to the attack, reports Gay City News.
The victim, Jawhar Edwards, says he was attacked because he is gay. Edwards told the outlet a man and a woman targeted him as he was going to feed some people experiencing homelessness on November 4. For years, Edwards has gone to the boardwalk between 19th Street and 21st Street to help feed those in need.
"I went down to feed the homeless. In return, I got assaulted, I got gay-bashed, I got robbed of my belongings. I got called a [slur], I got told 'If I see you again, I am going to kill you.'" Edwards told local TV station WNYW.
He told Gay City News that bystanders on the boardwalk walked past after the attack and did nothing to help.
Edwards said that while he was happy to be alive, he's angry that antigay attacks continue to happen.
The attack left Edwards with a fractured eye socket and having to have reconstructive surgery. He told WNYW that he can't see out of his left eye after the attack. Edwards said the assailants practically left him for dead.
"This is unacceptable," Edwards said, noting that November's attack wasn't the first time he's been targeted for his sexual orientation. He said that he no longer goes to feed the homeless because he fears being out at night alone after the attack.
On Friday, Edwards and local advocates organized a rally to condemn anti-LGBTQ+ violence.
New York Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus of Brooklyn helped plan the rally. She told WNYW, "Many of us find this appalling, so of course, we're kind of shocked. And we're saying, 'Who would be doing this?'"
\u201cAnti-LGBTQ+ hate has no place here.\n\nCommunity Organizer Jeffrey Severe joined Assemblymember @FrontusAD46 & @ABatistaPerezBk to stand up for Jawhar Edwards, who's experienced harassment and now a violent assault. We must protect our neighbors and address the root causes of hate.\u201d
— Office of the Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams (@Office of the Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams)
Frontus added: "It's kind of hard to fathom that this type of violence has escalated."
"[Edwards] is not hurting anyone," Ann Valdez, a community organizer who lives in Coney Island, told Gay City News. "He's not bothering anyone. He went out there to feed the homeless. He's not being paid for that. He's doing that out of the kindness of his heart... My question for Coney Island is, 'where is your heart?'"
Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have increased almost 140 percent, according to NYPD.
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