While much progress has been made, anti-gay discrimination and harassment continues to occur in New York City, as evidenced in startling new footage of an apparent verbal and physical assault on subway passengers returning from Pride festivities over the weekend.
The video, posted to YouTube on July 2, was filmed by bystander Rakshita Koirala, a local litigator who said she witnessed the incident while riding a Queens-bound F train close to midnight on June 30.
WARNING: Video contains explicit language.
The clip -- which was edited by Koirala's friend Brandon Cotter -- appears to show two men hurling homophobic slurs at a group of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) passengers, at one point apparently assaulting one of the women. One of the men also attempts to take Koirala's phone and threatens to kill her.
In a phone interview with The Huffington Post, Koirala explained that she began filming when one of the men began directing homophobic comments at the LGBT youths and she became concerned for their safety.
"[The older man] started to say things like, if you were in Iran you would be killed," Koirala said. "Just very anti-gay, very homophobic, very violent comments."
She said that if the situation escalated, her video might help protect the passengers.
As the video shows, over the course of several minutes, the confrontation does escalate. One of the men struggles with Koirala for her phone, and she yells that she is an attorney. (Passengers eventually intervene.) There is also a physical altercation between one of the two men and a female passenger, who exchange insults.
"I'll f**king kill you here," the other man later yells at the woman. "I hit you so hard in your face you'll die."
The two men got off at the Roosevelt Avenue stop and left the subway, but Koirala said a witness overheard them talking about nearby Jamaica, Queens, which may mean they are regular commuters on the F line.
Koirala said she filed a police report with transit authorities but took her footage to the Internet after officers seemed to downplay the incident.
"It was absolutely unacceptable to me," Koirala told HuffPost, adding that from her end, the incident was clearly a hate crime, perhaps amounting to attempted assault in the third degree.
The New York City Anti-Violence Project released a statement Tuesday, calling the video deeply disturbing and denouncing the incident as "hate violence."
While the New York Police Department's Hate Crimes Task Force declined to comment, a spokesman for the NYPD told HuffPost that it sounded like Koirala, at the very least, had a case for attempted robbery.
"I think that witnesses will step forward," Koirala told the HuffPost. "I think they will step forward and be adamant about finding these guys and prosecuting them."
Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact the NYPD's Hate Crime Hotline at 212-335-3100 or the AVP through its hotline at 212-714-1141.
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