A Black transgender man is dealing with a broken eye socket, partial vision loss, and other injuries after a suspected hate crime attack in Rochester, New York.
Samson Tequir, a 30-year-old Black Lives Matter organizer, required surgery to repair damage to his eye socket and a shattered cheekbone after he was attacked while walking home on July 31.
Police are investigating the attack — which took place after Tequir and his partner left a grocery store in the east side of the city — as a potential hate crime.
Tequir said his assailants first approached him while he waited outside Big Town Grocery in Rochester, after his partner had entered the store.
He said they started “yelling at me, and said I couldn’t stand on the corner like that…said I had to get off his corner with that gay (expletive),” Tequir told the Democrat & Chronicle.
Surveillance footage from across the street captured the men approaching and accosting Tequir, who said the men told him he “shouldn’t be dressed like that, I had to get out of here with these gay clothes and all that.”
The men allegedly attacked Tequir and his partner after they left the store, following the couple as they walked home before striking Tequir on the side of the head.
He told the Democrat & Chronicle that he lost consciousness for a few seconds after he was struck, with doctors later telling him that he was hit at least one more time.
Police were called after the attack, but didn’t arrive on scene until more than 40 minutes after the call was placed. A police spokeswoman said it was because “cars were tied up on other jobs at the time.”
Tequir said the officers were “no help,” claiming that the suspects stayed in the area after he was attacked and that police were provided with descriptions of his alleged attackers, but did not investigate the scene.
In addition, he claims that the men reportedly livestreamed the aftermath of the attack, in a video that Tequir said had since been removed from Facebook — although police couldn’t confirm whether such a video had existed.
“The preliminary investigation revealed that the victims were approached by two suspects who engaged in a verbal altercation with the victims regarding one of the victim’s sexual orientation,” Rochester Police Department said in a statement.
“The Rochester Police Department is investigating this incident as a potential hate crime and is consulting with the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.”
The investigation remains ongoing, with no arrests yet made. Rochester police have released additional surveillance footage showing the two suspects, and are urging anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers on 585-423-9300.
Tequir said that he had been left with partial vision loss in his right eye, a bruised cornea and retina, and a broken tooth after the attack.
In a Facebook post on August 4, Tequir thanked his supporters and said he was having surgery and would be “out of commission for a while after this.”
With regards the attack, he told the Democrat & Chronicle that his story was “not new” and “not the last one.”
“I can look around the room I am in right now and find more of those stories just the same,” he said. “The only reason you are hearing about it is because people happened to know my name.”
He added that people think attacks based on gender identity “only happens in big cities,” or to trans youth or trans women.
“It is still happening right here, in 2020, in the city of Rochester,” he said.
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