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Staten Island Hate Crime Victim Speaks Out

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

In Staten Island, police have made one arrest and are expected to make another shortly for last weekend's assault on an 18-year-old high schooler who was heading home from his job busing tables early last Saturday morning.

The NYPD says that the suspect they've apprehended is 15 and is facing charges of second degree robbery, which includes assault and aggravated harassment as a hate crime. Earlier reports of the incident showed four or five people attacked the victim, beating him, robbing him and yelling anti-Mexican slurs. After the incident, police deployed a 15-person hate crime task force in the area, including two portable SkyWatch towers to conduct surveillance. The NYPD has also sent officers of Mexican descent to the Port Richmond neighborhood where the assault took place.

The brutal hate crime may be the beginning of a trend. Police have described the incident as the tenth hate crime against Hispanics on Staten Island since April.

New York City lawmakers say they'll implement better lighting, more security cameras and an advertising campaign called "I am Staten Island" to address the borough's spike in bias crimes. Council Speaker Christine Quinn has also said that the city council will push for more diversity training in local schools and communities.

In the meantime, some victims are telling their stories, in the hopes that speaking out will help educate the community about the rise in hate crimes so community members can organize against them. WNYC's Soterios Johnson speaks to the victim of last weekend's brutal beating in Staten Island, Hispanic teenager Christian Vazquez, about the assault and how he's recovering. Vazquez, who was treated for injuries and released after the incident, volunteers with the group Eye Openers, which seeks to combat prejudice.

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Soterios Johnson

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Comments [3]

Tony Bennett from Stapleton

Prior the ‘80’s, Port Richmond was a vibrant community with block after block of stores along Richmond Avenue. In ’75, The Staten Island Mall was the slow poison that our borough consumed and one more step in killing the North Shore (which I believed began after WW2 and the end of Industry on the Island). Our Immigrants are the only groups that have taken the chance to revitalize this area with new business. We were demoted to ‘Bedroom Borough’ and the only businesses we have are service oriented or related to the rollercoaster ride of the housing construction industry. The developers, contractors, and employers that wooed then rejected our immigrant workforce are second to blame only after our borough government (they really are one in the same). Both are complicit in creating this problem. I rather have the hundreds of unemployed or underemployed youth working together; to clean up the Island, rebuild the infrastructure et al. It’s cheaper to for the city pay a person a living wage than to pay for welfare or a prison cell.

Aug. 05 2010 12:04 PM

Councilwoman Quinn's knee-jerk response – to institute “diversity training” -- is a HUGE waste of time and money. (It doesn’t even really work in the corporate setting.) Go to Port Richmond -- huge knots of bored, angry, unemployed young people; closed up stores, and dreadfully substandard absentee-landlord housing are highly contributory to the tinderbox feel of the place. THIS is what’s inflaming further the racial tensions emanating from whites and African Americans toward Mexicans. THE BEST THE CITY COUNCIL CAN DO IS COME UP WITH 'DIVERSITY TRAINING'? How about some economic incentive programs for youth?

Aug. 04 2010 02:55 PM
Alex Campbell from Laurelton

This incident is horrible but from what this kid is saying, this doesn't sound like a clear cut hate crime. He mentioned something about him being targeted for possible gang affiliation. Gangs are often formed along lines of ethnicity and nationality, so I think this fact complicates how we look at these crimes. Should gang violence be synonymous with hate violence in all cases except when the clashing groups are members of the same race or nationality? And, does one utterance of a racially-based insult turn a regular fight into a bias crime that prosecutors will treat more seriously?

Aug. 04 2010 12:36 PM

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