NEW YORK CITY — The gay man who was gunned down in a hate crime early Saturday faced discrimination "with grace," a friend told DNAinfo New York.
Mark Carson, 32, was a big-hearted man who had encountered homophobia from time to time, but didn't let hateful words bother him, said his friend Rey Lord, a 29-year-old gay man.
"He had had things like this happen to him before, but he always handled it with grace and he would turn and walk away," Lord said. "Words were just words to him."
On Saturday, a barrage of hateful words ended in Carson's death when Elliot Morales allegedly shot Carson to death after hurling anti-gay epithets, police said.
Friends, activists and politicians planned to mourn Carson and demand an end to anti-gay hate crimes at a march and rally Monday night.
The 5:30 p.m. gathering was set to start at the LGBT Center at 208 W. 13th Street, then move to Sixth Avenue and West Eighth Street, the spot where Carson was gunned down in what police are calling a hate crime early Saturday morning.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and dozens of other officials, as well as representatives from gay rights groups, were expected to attend.
An emotional Quinn speaking at a press conference Monday called on every member of the City Council to attend the rally. "The only thing that can stop this is people of good will standing up and saying this is not something that will be tolerated," the openly gay mayoral candidate said in a forceful voice.
Quinn added that she called Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and asked for an increased police presence on the west side through the end of June's Pride month.
"Between now and the entire month of June — LGBT Pride month — there will be increased police presence throughout the entire lower west side of Manhattan," Quinn said, "and there will be additional temporary headquarter vehicles stationed in Chelsea, Hells Kitchen and the Village, to make sure we have the levels of police presence we need to keep New Yorkers safe."
Police could not immediately confirm the increase.
Carson was shot to death just after midnight by Morales, 33, after he confronted Carson and called him a "faggot," police said. Morales was arraigned on second-degree murder charges as a hate crime and ordered held without bail.
"There was a time in New York City when two people of the same gender could not walk down the street arm-in-arm without fear of violence and harassment," Quinn said in a statement. "We refuse to go back to that time. This kind of shocking and senseless violence, so deeply rooted in hate, has no place in a city whose greatest strength will always be its diversity."
Morales passed Carson and a friend and said, "Look at you faggots, you look like gay wrestlers," according to a criminal complaint. Morales then trailed Carson and his friend around the corner and continued his hateful confrontation, adding, "You want to die tonight?" Morales then asked Carson, "You with him?" When Carson replied yes, Morales allegedly shot him in the head with a .38 revolver.
The shooting is believed to be the 22nd hate crime murder in New York this year — nearly double the amount for all of 2012, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
The troubling rise in anti-gay hate crimes in New York has struck a chord nationwide. The Washington, D.C. based Human Rights Campaign condemned the attacks in statement.
"When an innocent person can be beaten or killed simply on the basis of their identity, something is profoundly sick and wrong," said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. "There's not an LGBT person who didn't hear about this horrendous murder and think: 'that could have been me.'"
Carson, who worked at a yogurt shop and had recently moved to Brooklyn, was a "kind soul," Lord said. "He seemed to never have a sad day or moment," Lord said.
"[He was] an all-around good person with a big heart. "[His death] makes no sense. As a gay man in America, it disgusts me."