Two Staten Island men were arrested Monday in connection with an attack on a patron at The Stonewall Inn that New York City police say may have been partially motivated by homophobia. The incident is currently under investigation.
According to various news reports, Benjamin Carver was in the men’s room of the historic bar at the time he was attacked. Matthew Francis, 21, and Christopher Orlando, 17, approached Carver and asked him for money. When Carver did not hand over any money, the other two men asked what kind of a bar they were in. Thinking they were joking, Carver confirmed it was a gay bar. That was when Francis and Orlando allegedly spouted anti-gay slurs. The initial scuffle escalated when one man blocked the door to the men’s room and held Carver back while both men allegedly took turns punching him. Carver was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for wounds to the eye.
Just after the assault, Craig Souza, Carver’s boyfriend, together with a bartender and other patrons, pursued the attackers. Francis and Orlando were captured by police some blocks later. Francis was charged with assault as a hate crime and attempted robbery. Orlando was released on bail and is awaiting arraignment.
The day after the attack, Carver returned to The Stonewall Inn to thank the bartender and others for assisting him after the incident and for their role in apprehending the alleged assailants, according to Stacy Lentz, a Stonewall Inn representative who spoke with GO.
Speaking on behalf of the Stonewall Inn, Lentz urged the community not to overreact in the face of this alleged act of anti-gay violence.
“While any anti-gay violence on every level is deplorable and must be seriously addressed, we don’t definitively know the motive in this case,” said Lentz. “We at The Stonewall Inn work hard to serve as a safe haven for the entire community,” Lentz added, “And I want to stress that we proudly provide a positive and affirming environment for the LGBTQ community as well as for all others.”
Lentz and her colleagues are eager to mobilize the community to turn this unfortunate incident into “something extremely positive.” On Saturday, October 16 from 7-9 p.m., The Stonewall Inn will host a benefit for the Anti-Violence Project (AVP), which assists those in the New York City LGBTQ community experiencing violence. In addition to raising funds, organizers hope the evening will further publicize AVP’s mission and work within the community.