Hate Crime Press Release

Press Release Date: 03/21/2005 Contact Information Heriberto Sanchez Soto Tel: (212) 563-4500

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Employee of local non-profit violently attacked by 15 youths Executive Director offers reward for attackers' arrest Fifteen youth attacked an employee of the Hispanic AIDS Forum, New York's largest Latino HIV/AIDS health promotion organization, outside of his Bronx home Saturday night at approximately 9pm. In an effort to bring attention to the issue and to support the capture of the youths involved in the crime, Heriberto S?nchez Soto, HAF's Executive Director, issued a $1,000 one-time reward for any evidence that leads to the arrest of any of those involved during a press conference today in front of the victim's home. Nelson Torres, the victim of the crime, was walking home Saturday evening when five youths followed him, taunted him, and called him "faggot" and "maricon." One of the youths tapped him on the shoulder from behind and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. Seconds later, another youth blew a whistle calling 10 to 15 others who came out and began kicking and punching Torres while he was on the ground. He suffered multiple minor injuries to his body, several contusions on his head, a concussion, and an injury to his right eye. The incident has been classified as hate crime by the New York City Police Department. Four youths were arrested on criminal charges, including 3rd degree assault, harassment and perpetration of a hate crime. Two were 16 years old and the other two were 14 years old. Sanchez Soto said he is appalled that an employee of the organization was so brutally attacked near his home. He said he wants to use this opportunity to bring attention to the increase in anti-gay hate crimes in New York City, in particular the Bronx. He said this unfortunate event only serves to highlight the need to take some very drastic steps to ensure such brutality does not continue. "Our staff member was assaulted by 15 to 20 youths in his own neighborhood. For the rest of his life he will have to live with the emotional and psychological trauma of this act. What will it take for these violent acts to end? How many more of our coworkers, family members, or friends must needlessly endure horrible violence before we galvanize ourselves to take action?" said Sanchez Soto. "We ask members of this community to take a stand with us. We will not be victimized!" According to a recent report by the Anti Violence Project, most hate crimes are committed in the outer boroughs, by attackers who are usually male and under 21, all of which are characteristics of this crime. For any information leading to the arrest of the individuals involved in the crime, please call the NY Police Department at 1-800-577 TIPS. Also, donations to increase the reward for information leading to the arrest of the individuals can be sent to Hispanic AIDS Forum, 213 West 35th Street, 12th Floor, NY, NY 10001 or a call can be made to the agency at 212-868-6230.