Homophobic Killings Won’t Dampen New York’s Gay Pride
Above: Mark Carson
At the end of this month, New York will celebrate its annual gay pride march. But the parties and marches—a moment in the year when the city asserts a stand against discrimination against LGBT people—will be shadowed with an increased police presence and tarnished by the string of recent hate crimes that prompted that presence. The most notorious of those recent crimes being the murder of 32-year-old Mark Carson last month in the city’s apparently gay-friendly Greenwich Village.
“Look at you gay faggots, you look like wrestlers,” is a snippet of the homophobic tirade aimed at Mark Carson before his killer, 33-year-old Elliot Morales, aimed his revolver at the Brooklyn resident’s cheek and shot him point blank. The wrestler comment is a little confusing, but then so is homophobia in a supposedly progressive country where around 11.7 million people are openly gay.
I called up New York writer and activist Darnell Moore to speak about Carson’s death, the rising homophobia in New York, and where the future lies for gay tolerance in the city. Moore is a co-managing editor of The Feminist Wire and currently a visiting scholar at the Institute on Research in African American Studies at Columbia University. He was also the inaugural Chair of the city of Newark, New Jersey’s LGBT Concerns Advisory Board and, like Mark Carson, black, gay, and from Brooklyn.
VICE: Following Mark Carson’s death, what’s the mood right now in New York’s gay community?
Darnell Moore: People are angry. Marches, rallies, and protests have been planned. Christine Quinn—our City Council president, who happens to be a lesbian—organized a rally in response about three days after Mark was murdered. It was estimated that 1,500 people attended. The day after he was murdered, residents from the neighborhood held a silent vigil on the corner. People are raising their voices. That’s generally the mood right now.
With Mark Carson being African American, do you feel especially connected to this story, being both black and gay in New York yourself?
I do. But the questions that came to mind as I stood at the rally were: Would this protest be taking place if Mark Carson wasn’t gay? What if we didn’t know his sexual identity and he was murdered in the same gay, queer part of the city? Would people still be angry? Black young men are dying all the time in New York. We’re not only dying, but we’re being stopped and frisked by police officers. We are the majority of the people being locked up within the prison system. And it seems like there doesn’t appear to be a public outcry. Moments like this really remind me that sometimes we are so invested in the sexual identity of individuals that we forget all the other parts that define them.
Yeah, it seems that when there’s a homophobic crime on a black man in New York, it receives so much more attention. For example, the Michael Sandy case in 2006.
Yes, the “gay” aspect of the victims’ identities seems to make both cases exceptional to some. Black death is mundane. It’s common. And I think that’s problematic. It’s problematic, one, when anybody is murdered, whether it’s a hate crime perpetrated because of someone’s sexual identity or race. Any crime that results in the death of someone should similarly provoke people. All of the folk who showed up to Mark’s memorial should also show up to a protest if any non-gay identified black man in New York City was shot down.
Art Talk – Matt Mignanelli
Mignanelli’s paintings may seem simple at first glance, but spend more time with them and you’ll start to admire the patterns created by light and energy. We spent a day with Matt at his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and talked about his work, life, and strong American work ethic while eating some amazing pizza.
Presented by Comex
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Who Protects New Yorkers from the NYPD?
Nicholas Heyward is a haunted man. He is one of many New Yorkers who have lost loved ones to the police. Nineteen years ago, Heyward’s son was playing with a toy gun in the stairwell of a Boerum Hill housing project in Brooklyn, New York, when he was fatally shot by an NYPD officer. Nicholas Jr. was 13 years old when he was killed.
“I heard Nick say, ‘We’re playing,’ and then I heard a boom,” Katrell Fowler, a friend of Nick Jr.’s told the New York Times shortly after the incident. Yet blame was placed on the boy’s toy rifle, instead of officer Brian George, who fired his very real revolver into the child’s abdomen.
The tragedy Heyward suffered has turned him into an activist. These days he spends much of his time calling for the Justice Department to review cases of alleged abuse committed by the NYPD, including that of his son’s. Heyward claims he had a deposition taken by his attorney in which officer George contradicts reasons cited by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes—currently up for reelection and the subject of a new reality show on CBS—for closing the case.
“Hynes said the stairwell was dimly lit, it was not. Hynes said George was responding to a 911 call, he was not.” Heyward has written several letters to Hynes over the years, he said, without receiving a response. In 2001, he was granted a meeting with the Brooklyn DA, after confronting him at a press conference. Heyward pleaded his case in Hynes’s office but nothing came of it. The DA’s office declined to comment on Heyward’s allegations when I called them yesterday, saying that since the case is more than ten years old, the office did not have the case’s file on hand. But for Heyward, the the pain of the slaying of his 13-year-old boy are still very fresh.
“I want the officer who murdered my son to go to jail,” he said to me, dressed all in black and holding a school-portrait photograph of his son over his heart at a protest last Friday in front of the Federal Court building in Manhattan’s Foley Square to demand the Justice Department appoint an independent prosecutor to scrutinize the death of his son and those of other’s killed by the NYPD.
Heyward is not alone in his suspicion of foul play in Hynes executions of justice. The DA has recently come under great scrutiny for spending years refusing to review convictions that he and his predecessor obtained through working with a homicide detective of such dubious repute. Last week, the Hynes office was forced to reopen 50 cases in which NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella was involved, after the Times uncovered that he obtained false confessions, lied, and relied on testimony from a single, crack-addicted prostitute to obtain a number of convictions. While families of those convicted through Scarlla’s police plan to start bird-dogging Hynes, others, like Heyward, have vowed to win justice for those they will never see again.
RIP Taylor Mead
On Wednesday, the Lower East Side lost yet another piece of its diminishing history when Taylor Mead, an actor, poet, Andy Warhol friend and collaborator, and a staple of the LES, passed away. It was not very long ago that I found myself in his apartment on Ludlow Street, discussing the drastic changes that have taken place in the LES with Taylor and the photographer Clayton Patterson. Soon after, Taylor was bought out of his apartment, which he had lived in for over three decades. He was taking a break from the city to visit his niece in Colorado, when he suffered a fatal stroke.
While spending time with Taylor I shot a video, along with Clayton and Jade Katzenellenbogen, about how he came to New York, as well as his recent battle with his landlord, noted LES prick Ben Shaoul. We hope to release the video sometime within the next few weeks.
In the meantime, here are some of Clayton Patterson’s memories and thoughts on Taylor.
Should College Be Free? These Protesters Think So
Yesterday morning, 50 students at Cooper Union in New York, took over their university president’s office. They promise to remain until he resigns.
The occupation is the latest battle in a war to keep Cooper Union free. Cooper Union is one of the only colleges in America that doesn’t charge tuition. But on April 23, Chairman of the Board Mark Epstein announced that, starting in 2014, the college would cost students $20,000 a year. That’s a 2 zillion percent increase. It was, according to protesters and students, a betrayal of the principles on which Cooper Union was built.
“Education should be as free as air or water,” the school’s founder, industrialist Peter Cooper, once procliamed. Cooper was the most progressive of the robber barons, a simple-living abolitionist Unitarian who invented Jell-O. He founded his university to provide an education to cash-strapped geniuses of both sexes. He positioned it where Bowery meets Broadway, as a geographic nod to class transcendence—where the upper and lower classes collide.
Since 1859, Cooper Union has been free. Cooper’s original endowment is supplemented by donors, alumni, and, most crucially, rent from the land under the Chrysler Building, located 39 blocks away.
Growing up in New York, I viewed Cooper Union through the filter of legend. Because it was free, it took only the best.
My friend Zak Smith, a Cooper art graduate who went on to exhibit in the Whitney Biennial, told me via text: “The great schools in the US are all too often just places that make rich families richer. Cooper Union was the exception.” Smith comes from a working-class family, but thanks to a free education at Cooper, he landed a Yale scholarship for his master’s degree and later became a world-renowned contemporary painter. “Not anymore. If it wasn’t for Cooper, people like me wouldn’t get to be artists.”
NYC today: UNIQLO presents Curtis Kulig, a DJ set from Pictureplane & more! See you there.
NY State of Mind #1
Hip-hop is having a renaissance right now in the city of New York, where it seems like every other day a new MC rises up out of the five burroughs with an even more unique style and approach to the music than what we thought was possible before. Motley crews like the A$AP Mob, the Beast Coast, and World’s Fair have given us a reason to love rhymes again. We’ve written a lot about this stuff, but sometimes words don’t do it justice. So, we’ve linked up with scene insider Verena Stefanie Grotto to document the new New York movement as it happens in real time, with intimate shots of rappers, scenesters, artists, and fashion fiends. Check back every week or so for more photos.
A Beginner’s Guide to Jason Nocito
Jason Nocito is an insanely talented and prolific photographer who, if you know anything about photography, you should already know about. He takes about a million cool photographs a day, and he needed some place to put them all, so he started a photoblog, LOADS Daily, on his website. Since he updates it all the time (some might say “daily”), there are a lot of weird and beautiful photos of neon puddles, dirty mops, and inadvertent faces to sift through. Since we know you’re so busy, Jason told us he would put together his favorites from this past month in a more easily digestible form. Consider it a beginner’s guide to the world of Jason Nocito. You’re welcome.
43 Is What a Skate Magazine Should Look Like
As skateboarding has grown in popularity and seeped into the lives of an ever-increasing number of households, the industry—and I’m painting with a broad stroke here—has morphed into a more family-friendly, watered-down version of what it once was, like MTV or domesticated animals. Which is why 43, a New York-based magazine that debuted last year from photographer Allen Ying, is a much-needed breath of clogged city air. A large-format quarterly that’s heavy on excellent photography and light on ads, 43 combines stories of late-night New York City skate missions with photos that wouldn’t be out of place on gallery walls anywhere in the city. Which is fitting, because on Tuesday night, in celebration of its third issue, 43 hosted a photo show at Temp Gallery in Tribeca.
While its previous issues have drawn praise within the skateboarding world, it’s probably safe to assume that this issue has received the most attention of any 43 so far, thanks to one of its photos body-jarring the internet a couple of weeks ago. The image above, of a gentleman by the name of Koki, ollie-ing a subway platform was spread far and wide not only on skate sites, but regular-people blogs like NYMag’s and Gothamist, among others.
I caught up with Allen to talk about his new issue and the pretty things inside of it.
VICE: Let’s cut right to it. Who is Koki, the guy sailing over the 143 Street subway gap, and what is wrong with him?
Allen Ying: Koki is an MIA local, and he’s a beast! I only got to meet him that night. It was all pretty surreal, but he’s rad. Koki was the only one in our crew who thought he could do it.
I’ve heard some whispers around the ole water cooler that Gonz ollied that gap, or one like it, way back when. What do you know about that?
I heard that rumor recently too, but I haven’t heard someone definitively say, “Oh, he def did that.” It was just someone saying they heard he might have done it. I’d love to hear about it if he did; that’d be amazing.