Gornell Roman was charged on Wednesday with assault and aggravated harassment after attacking Dan Contarino, a gay man, in the counterculture neighborhood of East Village in Manhattan. Roman was the third person to be arrested this week for anti-gay hate crimes in New York City.
After yelling a derogatory term, Roman reportedly attacked Contarino on the street.
“The next thing I know, I was in the hospital. I have no memory of what exactly happened to me,” Contarino said.
The two are apparently neighbors at a local homeless shelter called Bowery Mission on East 4th Street and Avenue D. According to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the two were friendly enough to have drinks and pizza that same night, just before Contarino told Roman he was gay.
Contarino said that he is lucky to be alive, walking away with only a black eye and a bruised forehead.
Contarino’s attack occurred just hours after a march in Greenwich Village in front of the LGBT Community Center honoring Mark Carson, an openly gay man who was killed over the weekend.
“He was a loving and caring person," Carson's aunt, Flourine Bompars, said. "The family would like have justice be served so that Mark’s death is not in vain."
Carson was allegedly shot and killed by Elliot Morales, who was charged with second-degree murder. After leaving a bar, Morales followed Carson down the street and shot him in the face. He was killed at 6th Avenue and West 8th Street, just blocks from Stonewall Inn, where the modern gay-rights movement began in 1969.
Two men in their early 40s were also attacked on Tuesday morning in SoHo.
The rise in anti-gay hate crimes has prompted police to increase their presence in nearby neighborhoods through the end of June, which is celebrated as Gay Pride Month.
“This hate must stop,” City Councilman Robert Jackson, said. “And it must stop now.”