Sept. 25, 2019. By Shane O’Brien
Elected officials and activists rallied outside a Jackson Heights restaurant Tuesday where a gay couple was attacked by at least five men earlier this month.
Assembly Woman Catalina Cruz and members of activist group Make the Road New York gathered at Pollos Mario, a Colombian restaurant located at 81-01 Roosevelt Ave., where they say a homophobic attack took place.
The restaurant was subject to heavy criticism. The victims allege that the staff failed to come to their defense when they were attacked by at least five men during the Sept. 12 assault. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Rally participants called on local residents and businesses to intervene when they see attacks on the LGBTQ community and to take a stand against homophobia.
The attack took place at around 4:40 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, according to the NYPD.
Police say that the two men were attacked by between four and six perpetrators and that the victims were taken to a hospital in stable condition. Police said that the two men were kicked and punched in the body by the mob, who fled the restaurant on foot in an unknown direction, according to a report taken from the victims at the restaurant.
There have been conflicting accounts about the cause of the assault–with the victims saying it was a bias crime while the restaurant employees reportedly saying otherwise. The employees also said that staff at the restaurant tried to break up the fight.
The victims say that they were attacked because of their sexual orientation and Make The Road New York held a rally Tuesday in their support. The organizers also criticized the staff and security at Pollos Mario for not intervening and putting a stop to the assault.
The couple, named as Daniel Dominguez and Alberto Cruz has said in a number of reports that they were eating at the restaurant when a mob of men started yelling anti-gay slurs at them.
Dominquez, 39, said that the attack left him with a broken nose and left Cruz, 36, needing stitches, according to various reports.
CCTV footage from the restaurant which surfaced online shows the couple involved in a verbal dispute with about five men at a nearby table. The cause of the dispute is unknown as the video has no sound.
The men approached the couple’s table as the dispute escalated, before one of the perpetrators punched one of the victims in the face, prompting an all-out attack.
The two men were punched in the face repeatedly and one of the victims was kicked after he fell to the ground. Both men appeared to be fully conscious after the assault, although one of the victims sported a visibly bloodied face.
Jackeline Franco, an employee at Pollos Mario, told CBS that staff at the restaurant tried numerous times to break up the fight and that the argument was started by the victims.