A prominent New York lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocate has been taken off life support after being brutally attacked over the weekend.
The Associated Press reports that Lou Rispoli, 62, was beaten in what may or may not have been an anti-gay hate crime in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Queens Oct. 21. No arrests have yet been made, according to The New York Post.
Details of the attack were relatively scarce, but the Queens Chronicle reports that Rispoli was assaulted by two men, while a tall suspect kept watch at their car. New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) cited a witness who told area police that two men were walking with Rispoli when they hit him over the head with a blunt object outside a large apartment complex.
Van Bramer, who is openly gay and was one of Rispoli's personal friends, could not confirm whether the victim had been inside the car with his attackers prior to the beating. As Gay City News reports, the one eyewitness who has come forward has not been able to provide much of a physical description of the two assailants other than that they were likely in their 20s.
“This type of heinous attack has no place in our community,” Van Bramer stated at a press conference, according to his official website. "What happened to Lou should never happen to anyone. Whoever committed this horrific act of violence must be arrested and brought to justice.”
Added New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn: "I want to extend my deepest sympathy and support to his husband, his family and friends during this most difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and his husband Lou. Sunnyside is a safe neighborhood and we must make sure the perpetrators are quickly arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Rispoli, who worked at New York's Greenwich House Music School, married his partner of 31 years in August 2011. Though neither Rispoli's husband nor their two daughters attended the press conference where Van Bramer and Quinn made statements, a statement simply asked the “the media to respect the privacy" of family members, according to the Chronicle.
"That such a man, whose life has touched so many so deeply, should be struck down so violently is incomprehensible to us," that statement continued, according to The New Civil Rights Movement. "And as Lou lays dying surrounded by those who love him, we find ourselves speechless with grief and disbelief."