Police in New York City are looking for a group of seven suspects involved in a stabbing being investigated as an anti-gay hate crime.
The stabbing occurred on Wednesday, April 5, in Hell’s Kitchen, one of Manhattan’s neighborhoods with a large LGBTQ population.
Raphael Ribot confronted a group of young male suspects after one of them hurled a homophobic slur at him near the corner of West 44th Street and 10th Avenue around 11:30 p.m. on the night in question, reports AM New York Metro.
Police claim the verbal altercation escalated after one of the young males punched the Ribot in the face. A second attacker followed suit, and a third pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the left thigh.
Up to seven people got involved in the fracas, yelling anti-gay slurs at Ribot, who fell to the ground before bystanders finally intervened.
The suspects fled the scene on foot, heading east on West 44th Street.
Officers from NYPD’s Midtown North Precinct responded to the incident. Emergency medical technicians rushed the Ribot to Mount Sinai West Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
Ribot later told ABC New York that he normally wouldn’t have responded to anti-gay slurs — which he routinely receives while just going about his business in the city — but chose to defend himself.
“How many times can you come up to someone and try to nullify your worth before you can’t take it?” said the 44-year-old.
“They are repeatedly punching me in the head,” Ribot recalled of the attack. “Someone threw a glass bottle and then I’m getting stabbed. All happened in two minutes.”
Police have since released surveillance video of the suspects, hoping to obtain the public’s help in identifying them. The suspects are described as in their late teens or early 20s. No further description has been released.
No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing, according to police.
Anyone with information about the attack or the possible suspects’ whereabouts is asked to call NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or 1-88-57-PISTA for Spanish speakers. Members of the public can also submit tips online through the Crime Stoppers website or on Twitter by messaging @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are confidential.
But it also comes at a time when LGBTQ people are being increasingly scapegoated nationally and accused of “grooming” or seeking to abuse children.
According to NBC News, in Feburary, a woman set a Manhattan restaurant’s Pride flag on fire in what is also being investigated as an anti-LGBTQ hate crime. Last month, protesters — including members of alleged white supremacist organizations — flocked to a Drag Queen Story Hour event at a Manhattan LGBTQ community center, in which they fought with counter-protesters, resulting in a handful of people being injured and police arresting one of the counter-protesters.
New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher, who is gay and whose district includes Hell’s Kitchen, was “enraged” by the attack.
“New York City is a symbol of diversity and freedom throughout the world, and Hell’s Kitchen is a haven for the LGBTQ+ community, and we will always stand up against hate of all kinds,” he said in a statement. “We will not be intimidated.”
State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan), who also represents Hell’s Kitchen, denounced the attack, offering sympathy for the victim and his family while thanking police for their prompt response.
“If confirmed, this will be yet another example of the type of vicious and hateful attacks on LGBTQ people that are on the rise across our country,” Hoylman-Sigal said in a statement. “It’s even more chilling when they happen in the midst of our own LGBTQ community, but we must stand strong against this hatred and outrageous attempts at intimidation.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!