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Community Demands Peace After Alleged Hate Crime Against Gay Activist

By Gustavo Solis | June 27, 2013 10:18pm
 Community members held a peaceful rally in response to an alleged hate crime in Richmond Hill.
Community Demands Peace After Alleged Hate Crime Against Gay Activist
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RICHMOND HILL — Outraged community organizers returned to the bar where a gay activist was allegedly beaten on Sunday and demanded peace Thursday evening.

About forty people stood across the street from Players Bar and Restaurant chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, all the violence has got to go.”

Organizers said the rally was a response to a rash of violence that has plagued Richmond Hill over the last few months, with the latest incident the alleged beating of Mohamed ‘Zaman’ Amin on Sunday at Players Bar on Liberty Avenue and 129th Street. The NYPD is investigating the attack as a hate crime.

Players Bar and Restaurant closed its doors before the rally started about 6 p.m.  Rainbow flags hung from the bar's windows and on a nearby fence. A manager said the bar would open after Thursday's rally.

“The people who were hurt are our patrons,” said a manager who declined to give his name. "We are sorry that it happened and are not against what [the protesters] are trying to do.”

The alleged attack on Amin began when a man in the bar, who was emceeing a duck curry cook-off at Players, announced to bar patrons that "the gays are in the house," Amin said. "I approached him and told him, ‘What you just did is very disrespectful to our people,’” Amin told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday.

“He laughed about it and walked away,” added Amin, who’s also known as drag queen Sundari Indian-Goddess. The man and his friends continued to hurl more homophobic slang at Amin's group, he said. Another member of Amin’s entourage, Anoop Pandohie, traded punches with one of the alleged harassers.

That's when the attacker, who is yet to be identified, picked up the second-place trophy Pandohie had won in the cook-off and allegedly bashed Amin over the head with it.

Amin, who was treated at Jamaca Hospital and needed seven staples to stop the bleeding, did not attend Thursday’s rally.

Thursday's rally was one of the largest LGBT events in recent memory an area that isn’t known for them, attendees said.

“There isn’t a big movement here in Queens,” said Jim Silvestri, of Kew Gardens. “It’s great to see this tonight but it's a shame that it took violence to make it happen.”

The alleged attack against Amin joins a growing number of hate crimes against the city's gay community, including the May 18 murder of 32-year-old Mark Carson. Police said Carson's murder was at least the 22nd anti-gay attack so far in 2013, a 77 percent increase from 13 such assaults during the same time period last year.