An interracial couple was attacked after leaving a Long Island City restaurant by a group of men who began yelling racial and homophobic insults at them, according to reports.
On Saturday, August 17 at 1:45 a.m. Jacob James-Vogel, 37, and his wife Billie, 40, were assaulted in front of 47-20 Center Boulevard, said police.
According to published reports, the couple was leaving Shi restaurant with a gay friend after celebrating Billie’s birthday when they were approached by a group of men who began yelling homophobic and racial slurs. Both Jacob and his wife received injuries from an altercation during the attack.
“Reports of a possible hate crime on Center Boulevard in Long Island City are deeply disturbing,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “There is no place for hatred in our City and I condemn this attack and all others in the strongest possible terms.”
Van Bramer also said he has made sure the hate crimes unit is investigating to figure out if the attack was motivated by hate. He is working with the the Anti-Violence Project to monitor the case and lead the community’s response against all bias related attacks.
“These attacks are hateful, ugly and un-New York,” said mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “We won’t let racism take hold where we’ve fought so hard to stamp it out. Whatever has spurred on these acts of violence, we’ll protect our people. New Yorkers have a right to live free from violence and fear. We must do more to affirm that right, by bringing more security cameras into the NYPD network so we can find perpetrators more quickly, and by joining police and communities in closer cooperation.”
Shih Lee, owner of Shi restaurant, said he saw a “fight” occurring around the corner of the restaurant and called the police. He is now working together with the police to put together information on what happened Saturday night.
“As a business serving Long Island City and beyond, we have a very diverse clientele and are very involved in the community,” said Lee. “We strongly condemn discrimination in all forms…”
The NYPD has arrested Nikolaos Katsos, 28, and charged him with assault and harassment. The investigation is still ongoing as police look for other suspects.