Two men have been arrested after assaulting a man in the Stonewall Inn, the iconic Manhattan gay bar and "ground zero" of the gay-rights movement. "What kind of bar is this?" one of them asked, before hitting the victim.
The attack occurred around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, when 34-year-old Benjamin Carver went to the bathroom while out for drinks with his boyfriend and friends. According to Carver, he was confronted by two men—21-year-old Matthew Francis (pictured) and 17-year-old Christopher Orlando, both Staten Island residents. Francis asked Carver if he was gay.
"I just laughed, and said, 'Where are you, buddy?'" Carver said. "I thought he was kidding around."
"He said, 'In a gay bar,' and then he said, 'Don't pee next to me, f——-,' " Carver said. "I just let it go."
"Then his friend asked me for a dollar . . . and I said, I don't have a dollar, and then he said, 'How about a 20?' " Carver said. "I zipped up, turned around, and they were blocking the door. I realized the situation had the potential to turn violent."
"I said, 'Please get out of the way, I'm not going to give you any money," and that's when he hit me," Carver said.
Carver fought back, elbowing one of his assaulters in the face four times, and eventually the fight moved from the bathroom into the main bar. Carver went to find a weapon from the pool table, but was held back by another patron, and Francis and Orlando slipped out. When it became clear what had happened, Carver, his boyfriend, and the bartender gave chase; they weren't able to catch up, but Francis and Orlando were later caught by the police. Francis has been charged with assault as a hate crime and attempted robbery; Orlando is being arraigned tonight.
It was Carver's first visit to Stonewall—he's from Washington, D.C.—and he was at the bar "because of its status as the ground zero of gay rights." (In a nutshell: On June 28, 1969, NYPD raided Stonewall in search of homosexuals to arrest; the gay men at the bar fought back, and the ensuing riots proved to be a catalyst for the gay-rights movement). He's already forgiven his attackers. "I would never give them the power to make me feel bad," he told the New York Post.
The attack at Stonewall was the second anti-gay assault in Manhattan this past weekend: Twenty-year-old Andrew Jackson has been arrested and accused of attacking a group of gay men in Chelsea on Friday night after seeing them hug and kiss each other goodbye. According to prosecutors, Jackson and his friends yelled "Go home, faggots, this is our neighborhood," before punching the men; Jackson is said to have thrown a garbage can at one victim's head.