Police have arrested seven individuals ranging in age from 16 to 23 for their roles in alleged anti-gay attacks Sunday.
CBS 2 took exclusive pictures of six of the seven suspects, who were trying to hide their faces with hoods on their heads, chained to each other. They are accused of anti-gay bias attacks that have shocked a University Heights neighborhood.
“I don’t understand how people can do that to another human being whether he’s gay, whatever he is,” resident Geovany Rodriguez told CBS 2’s John Metaxas.
The alleged bloody beatings happened on Osborne Place early Sunday. Police said members of a gang known as the “Latin King Goonies” lured a 17-year-old into an unoccupied ground floor apartment.
“He was thrown into a wall, made to strip naked, hit in the head with a beer can, cut with a box cutter, and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Police said the gang questioned the teen about his contact with a 30-year-old man, and then let him go with a warning not to call police.
Two other brutal attacks would follow — first on another 17-year-old, and then the 30-year-old himself, who was allegedly lured to the scene.
“He was forced to strip to his underwear and then tied to a chair opposite from the teenager. The teenager, at the direction of his assailants, hit the older male several times in the face and burned him with a cigarette. The assailants also hit the man with their fists and a chain, and sodomized him with a small baseball bat,” Kelly said.
Kelly said after dumping him unconscious the assailants went on to their next victim — the man’s brother who lived nearby.
“Five assailants let themselves into his apartment through the front door, with keys taken from his brother. They pulled a blanket over the older brother’s head, beat him, and demanded money,” Kelly said.
Read more here.
By JIM FITZGERALD
PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – Arthur Furano voted early — five days before Election Day. And he voted often, flipping the lever six times for his favorite candidate. Furano cast multiple votes on the instructions of a federal judge and the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a new election system crafted to help boost Hispanic representation.
Voters in Port Chester, 25 miles northeast of New York City, are electing village trustees for the first time since the federal government alleged in 2006 that the existing election system was unfair. The election ends Tuesday and results are expected late Tuesday.
Although the village of about 30,000 residents is nearly half Hispanic, no Latino had ever been elected to any of the six trustee seats, which until now were chosen in a conventional at-large election. Most voters were white, and white candidates always won.
Federal Judge Stephen Robinson said that violated the Voting Rights Act, and he approved a remedy suggested by village officials: a system called cumulative voting, in which residents get six votes each to apportion as they wish among the candidates. He rejected a government proposal to break the village into six districts, including one that took in heavily Hispanic areas.
Furano and his wife, Gloria Furano, voted Thursday.
“That was very strange,” Arthur Furano, 80, said after voting. “I’m not sure I liked it. All my life, I’ve heard, `one man, one vote.'”
It’s the first time any municipality in New York has used cumulative voting, said Amy Ngai, a director at FairVote, a nonprofit election research and reform group that has been hired to consult. The system is used to elect the school board in Amarillo, Texas, the county commission in Chilton County, Ala., and the City Council in Peoria, Ill.
The judge also ordered Port Chester to implement in-person early voting, allowing residents to show up on any of five days to cast ballots. That, too, is a first in New York, Ngai said.
Village clerk Joan Mancuso said Monday that 604 residents voted early.
Gloria Furano gave one vote each to six candidates. Aaron Conetta gave two votes each to three candidates.
Frances Nurena talked to the inspectors about the new system, grabbed some educational material and went home to study. After all, it was only Thursday. She could vote on Friday, Saturday or Tuesday.
“I understand the voting,” she said. “But since I have time, I’m going to learn more about the candidates.”
On Tuesday, Candida Sandoval voted at the Don Bosco Center, where a soup kitchen and day-laborer hiring center added to the activity, and where federal observers watched the voting from a table in the corner.
“I hope that if Hispanics get in, they do something for all the Hispanic people,” Sandoval said in Spanish. “I don’t know, but I hope so.”
FairVote said cumulative voting allows a political minority to gain representation if it organizes and focuses its voting strength on specific candidates. Two of the 13 Port Chester trustee candidates — one Democrat and one Republican — are Hispanic. A third Hispanic is running a write-in campaign after being taken off the ballot on a technicality.
Campaigning was generally low key, and the election itself was less of an issue than housing density and taxes.
Hispanic candidates Fabiola Montoya and Luis Marino emphasized their volunteer work and said they would represent all residents if elected.
Gregg Gregory gave all his votes to one candidate, then said: “I think this is terrific. It’s good for Port Chester. It opens it up to a lot more people, not just Hispanics but independents, too.”
Vote coordinator Martha Lopez said that if turnout is higher than in recent years, when it hovered around 25 percent, the election would be a success — regardless of whether a Hispanic was elected.
“I think we’ll make it,” she said. “I’m happy to report the people seem very interested.”
But Randolph McLaughlin, who represented a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the goal was not merely to encourage more Hispanics to vote but “to create a system whereby the Hispanic community would be able to nominate and elect a candidate of their choice.”
That could be a non-Hispanic, he acknowledged, and until exit polling is done, “it won’t be known for sure whether the winners were Hispanic-preferred.”
The village held 12 forums — six each in English and Spanish — to let voters know about the new system and to practice voting. The bilingual ballot lists each candidate across the top row — some of them twice if they have two party lines — and then the same candidates are listed five more times. In all, there are 114 levers; voters can flip any six.
Besides the forums, bright yellow T-shirts, tote bags and lawn signs declared “Your voice, your vote, your village,” part of the educational materials also mandated in the government agreement. Announcements were made on cable TV in each language.
All such materials — the ballot, the brochures, the TV spots, the reminders sent home in schoolkids’ backpacks — had to be approved in advance, in English and Spanish versions, by the Department of Justice.
Conetta said the voter education effort was so thorough he found voting easier than usual.
“It was very different but actually quite simple,” he said. “No problem.”
When the Empire State Building lights up, reaching 102 stories into the Manhattan sky, people lift their eyes and guess what that night’s colors
might mean — a holiday, a charitable cause, maybe a Yankees win or a birthday.
But sometimes, color turns to controversy.
Tens of thousands of people are in an uproar about the building owner’s refusal to light New York City’s tallest skyscraper in blue and white to honor Mother Teresa in August on what would be her 100th birthday.
“The Empire State Building celebrates many cultures and causes in the world community
with iconic lightings, and has a tradition of lightings for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan), Hanukkah, and Christmas,” owner Anthony E. Malkin said in a statement Wednesday.
But the real estate mogul said the privately owned building “has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations.”
The lay advocacy group Catholic League, which requested the lights for Mother Teresa, countered that individual religious figures have, in fact, been posthumously honored at the Empire State Building: Cardinal John O’Connor in 2000, with the red and white colors of his position; Pope John Paul II in 2005, with the tower lights symbolically extinguished; and famed Baptist preacher Martin Luther King Jr. with red, black and green.
An e-mail sent to Malkin spokesman Daniel Hernandez Lyon asking about religious figures being honored was not answered Wednesday.
The League first asked for the lights in February and was denied.
Anyone can apply to have the building illuminated for what’s dear to them. But the privately owned landmark considers selection “a privilege, not an entitlement,” according to the website with the application form.
Applications are evaluated by the Empire State Building Co., which says online that decisions are made “at the sole discretion of the ownership and management.”
More than 40,000 people have signed a petition in support of the special lights for Mother Teresa.
Cindy Caprio, an aspiring young actor who works as a hostess at a bar facing the Empire State Building, says she spends her night shift at the door greeting guests — and seeing the colors above her change daily.
“I don’t always know what the colors mean, but I look up every day, and I love it,” she said Wednesday. “I can usually figure it out for the Fourth of July or the Yankees. And I sometimes guess right.”
And when she goes home to Hoboken, N.J., across the river, she can still see the Empire State Building, glowing from afar.
On Wednesday afternoon, New York City Council members voiced their disagreement with what they see as a snub of the ethnic Albanian nun who worked for the poor and the sick while living in India. She died in 1997 and was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church — a step toward possible sainthood.
“I just think it’s a really wrong-headed decision that (Malkin) has made,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.
“I don’t think this is about religion,” Quinn said. “Mother Teresa was a nun, obviously, but she was much more than that; she was a Nobel Prize winner … who inspired people of all religions.”
Quinn was backed by City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who said “the only person who could forgive the Empire State Building for this boneheaded decision would be Mother Teresa.”
League President Bill Donohue said Malkin’s policy “is being made up on the run,” but the building owner is “not going to get away with it.”
The League is applying for a permit to protest at the foot of the Empire State Building on Aug. 26, Mother Teresa’s birthday, hoping to fill West 34th Street from Fifth to Sixth avenues.
Until then, the building will keep a tradition started in 1964 of flooding its highest stories with light from sunset to midnight, using computerized LEDs — light-emitting diodes — that can produce millions of colors and patterns.
Decades ago, only nine colors were used, with maintenance workers walking on parapets to hand-install colored lenses on floodlights.
Today’s lights are controlled from a computer console, but the magic remains.
Depending on the season, it’s blue and white for Hanukkah, red and green for December, yellow and white for spring, pink and white for breast cancer awareness.
Last year, the building was bathed in red and yellow — the colors of communist China — to mark the 60th anniversary of its founding. That decision created a controversy that matches the current one.
When Frank Sinatra turned 80, the Empire lavished Ol’ Blue Eyes with blue light.
by Pamela Geller
Despite weather forecasts of thunderstorms, the skies were clear and beautiful Sunday afternoon for our Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) rally against the Ground Zero mega-mosque, but not as beautiful as the patriotic crowd who came out to stand for freedom against this insulting manifestation of Islamic supremacism. It was a real cross-section of humanity: every race, creed, color and religion were out in all their glory.
My SIOA colleague, bestselling author and Islam expert Robert Spencer, and I were expecting 500 people to attend our rally. Imagine our wonder when close to 5,000 showed up. Other estimates ranged up to 10,000. The crowd was so huge that it filled the police pens and Zuccotti Park, and overflowed to the other side of the street.
Despite the huge size of the rally, there was little media coverage at the event, which indicates the media’s bias. The NY News actually ran a segment repeatedly Sunday afternoon about the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender parade, but not a word about our massive rally. And all Sunday, Fox News was running—get this—Greta Van Susteren’s years-old interview with Natalee Holloway’s murderer.
But there were loads of bloggers, including El Marco, Pamela Hall, and others, who put the mainstream media to shame with their thorough coverage and exemplary photojournalism. They showed yet again how essential the new media is today—and how useless the old.
Our speaker list was wide-ranging. We had C. Lee Hanson, who lost his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter on 9/11; Anders Gravers of our sister organization, Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE); Simon Deng, the Sudanese ex-slave and campaigner for human rights for Sudanese Christians; James Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force; Nonie Darwish, ex-Muslim and author of Now They Call Me Infidel and Cruel and Usual Punishment; Dr. Babu Suseelan, a Hindu leader and human rights activist; Herbert London of the Hudson Institute; and Alan T. DeVona, the patrol sergeant on duty at the time of the jihad terror attack on September 11. Also attending were some politicians who are attuned to the will of the people: Jay Townsend, who is running against Sen. Chuck Schumer for (D.-N.Y.) and has been endorsed by the New York Conservative Party and is on the GOP ballot; Vincent Forras, a candidate for Senate in Connecticut; and Dan Maloney, the New York director of Gathering of Eagles and a congressional candidate in New York’s 4th Congressional District.
And this is just the beginning. We are going to sue to designate as a war memorial the Burlington Coat Factory building, which the Muslims behind the Ground Zero Mosque initiative are already using as a mosque, and which is slated to be torn down to make way for the massive fifteen-story mega-mosque.
This is the right thing to do, since there is a large piece of an airplane in that building. That makes the building a war memorial, no less than Gettysburg or Pearl Harbor. There should be no mosque there, and nothing there but a memorial to the people America lost to that heinous attack on September 11, 2001. Instead of a mega mosque at Ground Zero, let’s build a 911 war memorial to the victims. That will give us the opportunity to redress yet another insult: the current plan for a 911 museum is several floors underground, like a dungeon. And the mosque plan calls for the mosque to be on the top floor, looking down triumphantly on the burial ground of Ground Zero.
I don’t think so.
The Burlington Coat Factory building must be a war memorial, a historic landmark. We will sue to make that happen. We are also planning another SIOA protest against the mega-mosque in September, and will stage sit-ins in front of the mosque should they try to break ground.
And we will never give up.
Three thousand good and decent Americans did not die in vain. And we have not forgotten them, even if Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of the New York political establishment have.
One picture says it all.
By MEGAN K. SCOTT
NEW YORK – After hours of contentious public comment, a New York City community board voted late Tuesday to support a plan to build a mosque and cultural center near ground zero.
“It’s a seed of peace,” board member Rob Townley said. “We believe that this is a significant step in the Muslim community to counteract the hate and fanaticism in the minority of the community.”
The vote was 29-to-1 in favor of the plan, with 10 abstentions. The move by the Manhattan Community Board 1, while not necessary for the building’s owners to move forward with the project, is seen as key to obtaining residents’ support.
Some board members wanted to postpone a vote until the next meeting to gather more information about the project and the organizations sponsoring it. But the motion failed.
The meeting was unruly, with project opponents jeering at speakers and yelling comments such as “You’re building over a Christian cemetery!” while holding signs that read, “Show respect for 3000,” referring to those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Many said they were not opposed to a mosque — just not one that’s two blocks from ground zero.
The families of Sept. 11 victims “would be wounded by erecting a mega mosque so close to the place where their loved ones were massacred,” said Viviana Hernandez, a chaplain. “Even though they may have altruistic reasons, the real terrorists will see it as a win on their side.”
Conservative tea party activist Mark Williams has called the proposed center a monument to the terror attacks.
The organizations sponsoring the project said they are trying to establish a vibrant and inclusive-world class facility.
Plans for the Cordoba House include a performing arts center, swimming pool, culinary school, child care facilities and worship space.
It would provide 150 full-time jobs, 500 part-time jobs and an investment of more than $100 million in infrastructure in the city’s financial district, according to Daisy Khan, spokeswoman for the Cordoba House.
Khan’s husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, one of the project’s sponsors, said he understood the pain that people have about 9/11. But he said his community and congregation were among those that died in the attacks.
“We have condemned the terror of 9/11,” he said. “We have worked to ensure that our mosques are not recruiting grounds for terrorists.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said in a statement that by supporting the multi-faith community and cultural center, the board “sent a clear message that our city is one that promotes diversity and tolerance.”
Stringer has been the target of disparaging remarks by Williams for supporting the plans and has defended his position and denounced offensive speech directed at him or at Muslims.
He said before the vote that he understood the sensitivities of the families of 9/11 victims.
“I don’t think anybody wants to do anything to disrespect those families. They made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “At the same time, we have to balance diversity and look for opportunities to bring different groups together.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said there were no security concerns about building a mosque in the area.
The American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative have said that they bought the building in 2009 and planned to break ground later this year. It could take up to three years to build the Cordoba House. A Friday prayer service has been held at the building since September 2009.
Besides the political and social opposition to the project, city officials say the plan also could be hindered by a decades-old proposal to give landmark status to a building that would be replaced by the mosque and center.
City officials say the current building, constructed between 1857 and 1858 in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style, is historically and architecturally significant.
Bruce Wallace, who lost a nephew on 9/11, said the center can change the misperceptions about Islam.
“The moderate Muslim voice has been squashed in America,” he said. “Here is a chance to allow moderate Muslims to teach people that not all Muslims are terrorists.”