Metro Weekly

New York Man Assaulted in Anti-Gay Attack in Florida

James Garcia believes the attack against him earlier this month was motivated by anti-gay sentiments.

James Garcia (left) – Photo courtesy of James Garcia; Maurice Antwan Charles – Photo: Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

A gay man who works for New York City Mayor Eric Adams was allegedly attacked and punched in the face while walking his dog in Florida.

James Garcia, 49, the director of outreach for the NYC Service Office of the Mayor, was walking his dog, Delilah, outside his condominium in Fort Lauderdale around 8 a.m. on April 17 when he heard a man yelling at him. 

“As I was leaving the building, I heard from a distance, towards the ocean, someone screaming,” Garcia told ABC affiliate WSVN.

He said the man approached him and asked, “Are you gay?” before punching him in the face.

“He punched me really hard. I fell to the ground bleeding,” Garcia told NBC affiliate WPLG. “My phone was covered in blood. I couldn’t call 911. My fingers kept slipping.”

Garcia eventually sought treatment for his injuries, including fractured cartilage on both sides of his nose. He received seven stitches on his forehead and three stitches above his lip.

Garcia later identified his attacker by looking at pictures provided by Fort Lauderdale Police.

Last Tuesday, officers arrested 36-year-old Maurice Antwan Charles, of Fort Lauderdale, and charged him with aggravated battery.

Charles, also known as “Big Jit” and “Big Youngster,” was previously convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in 2017 in Miami-Dade County. He was released from prison last December.

But Garcia would like to see Charles face bias enhancements for what he considers a crime motivated by anti-gay animus.

“This is a crime of hate. Whether he was targeting me, [or] someone else he suspected as part of the LGBTQ community,” Garcia told WSVB.

“It’s important that we create a message around urgency to our elected officials, that crimes like this should not be ignored, that they should be tagged as what they really are: hate crimes,” he added.

The police investigation into the case remains ongoing.

Garcia said the attack has left him with trauma, as he thinks about it every day.

“I think about the attacker when I close my eyes,” he said. “I can hear his voice, so those wounds will take time to heal.”

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