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BY PAUL SCHINDLER | A Manhattan man arrested on charges of felony assault as a hate crime called 911 as he was “fleeing the scene” of the alleged attack to claim “that a group of homosexuals was following him,” according to the criminal complaint filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
The N.Y.P.D. reported that at roughly 10:40 p.m. on August 1, Takeam Brison, 32, approached a group of men and women on Delancey St. near Essex and began shouting homophobic slurs. When a woman in the group responded to his comments, he allegedly slashed her in the face with a knife, an injury that required hospitalization and 60 stitches. The criminal complaint said the woman, who has not been identified, was told by doctors that she may suffer “permanent disfigurement” as a result of the attack.
Press reports and a statement from the New York City Anti-Violence Project indicated that the woman is a 29-year-old Brooklynite. Several media outlets reported that she came to the aid of a man as the suspect shouted anti-gay epithets at him, but the criminal complaint suggests Brison was verbally abusive toward the victim as well as her companions.
According to the complaint, Brison “began yelling at informant and her group in sum and substance fags, go back to fagville, fagnation, you lesbians, homos.” He then allegedly “approached informant and smacked her in the face, knocking her to the ground, at which point informant immediately began bleeding.”
Brison was apprehended by police within blocks of the incident and police say he was found to have a knife in his front pocket.
He faces charges of first-degree assault as a hate crime and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Phone records show that Brison called police “as he was fleeing the scene and stated in sum and substance that a group of homosexuals was following him.” Police say that when he was apprehended, Brison told officers “in sum and substance that he got the lesbians that were following him.”
According to police, Brison, who has at least one previous criminal conviction, resides at 197 Bowery, home to the Andrews House transitional housing program run by Common Ground, a homeless services organization.
Brison’s bail was set at $60,000 and his case was adjourned until August 7 pending possible grand jury action. Sean Parmenter, his Legal Aid Society attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.
City Councilmember Margaret Chin, whose Lower Manhattan district includes the scene of the attack, noted the willingness of the victim to challenge someone shouting hostile homophobic comments.
“As with any violence that targets our L.G.B.T. New Yorkers or their supporters, I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms,” Chin said in a written statement. “The woman who confronted this man during his hate-filled rant must be commended for her courageous and noble action, and I am deeply thankful that she did not suffer life-threatening injuries.”
Shelby Chestnut, the director of community organizing at A.V.P., also discussed the victim’s apparent willingness to stand up to someone making threatening anti-gay comments. Alluding to a March attack on a gay man at the W. Fourth St. subway station where 50 bystanders were said to have done nothing to help the victim, she said the woman’s actions on Delancey St. indicated a “better understanding across the broader New York City community that it is not okay to engage in anti-LG.B.T. violence and harassment.”
Chestnut added, however, that her group works to educate people on “how to intervene safely, and to take care of yourself first.”
She also pointed out that the sexual orientation of the victim and the others on the scene when the attack took place is unknown. New York State’s hate crimes law includes penalty enhancements for crimes motivated by “actual or perceived” sexual orientation, among other categories.
A.V.P., Chestnut said, will be doing outreach on the Lower East Side in coming weeks to raise awareness of the risks of hate crimes and safe ways to respond. The group’s 24-hour bilingual hotline is 212-714-1141.
The most recent data from the group shows that reported incidents of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. and anti-H.I.V. crime in New York increased 26 percent last year, continuing a four-year trend. Chestnut cautioned, however, that the rise likely reflects both increased incidents and greater reporting on the part of victims.
“We may actually be getting close to the actual number,” she said.