Gabriela and Nayra, both transgender women, stood alongside activists on Monday to recount what happened to them on March 17.
According to Gabriela, who spoke in Spanish through a translator, they were entering a McDonald’s near 82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue when a man behind them began yelling homophobic remarks. They didn’t pay attention and kept walking.
But the man then ran toward them and yelled aggressively, she said. He picked up two “ice balls,” checked to see they were hard, and threw them at the women.
“He came to kick us and punch us,” she said. “He picked up a metal cane and starting hitting me and her with that.”
Nayra, Gabriela’s longtime “inseparable” friend who lived with her in Puerto Rico, fractured her ankle. She arrived at Monday’s rally with crutches and a cast.
Gabriela said she eventually grabbed the metal cane and began defending herself.
According to reports, police arrested Patrick O’Meara, a Long Island man, and charged him with assault as a hate crime.
The victims didn’t appear to receive much help. According to Gabriela, one bystander, Maria Munoz, called an ambulance for them. But there were more than 20 men at the scene who just stood by.
“They were filming us, they were laughing at us,” she said. “I feel extremely disappointed.”
Munoz, a graduate student at Columbia University, even accompanied the women to court. She said transgender women today face injustice that “are denying them their basic human rights.”
“They were simply going to McDonalds,” Munoz said. “This attack has resulted in not only physical scars, but emotional ones that will take a long time to heal.”
Munoz added that she was shocked to see not only the pain in the victims’ faces, but also the “inaction of those people around us.”
“I ask you fellow Latino men and women that we must stand in times of oppression. We must speak up when we see injustices,” she said. “Now more than ever, let’s stand together to fight homophobia and transphobia.”
Councilman Daniel Dromm said he was saddened to hear about yet another attack on the transgender community, which he’s seen more of recently.
“When I heard Gabriela say that men stood around and watched this attack and did nothing, it breaks my heart to know that people in our community did not stand up to defend the women in our community,” he said. “We will always be here to fight against any type of attack against our community.”
Gabriela said when she was in the hospital, a detective spoke to her and Nayra. She said the detective “asked me the same question about 20 times,” but just in different ways.
“It was really hard because I didn’t feel like he was helping,” she said. “It felt like he was questioning me.”
LGBT activists asked the NYPD to do more to prevent violence against the transgender community. After speaking, the advocacy groups marched toward 90th Street for a rally.
“We will no longer stand idly by while the NYPD fails to do their job and investigate these types of crimes the way that they should,” said activist Stephanie Rivera.