STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — As a 17-year-old Mexican busboy recovered at home from a vicious beating in Port Richmond early Saturday, community residents remained on edge despite a heavy blanket of police protection.
The teen was nursing a black eye and a swollen face.
Ironically, the victim, whose identity has not been made public, is trained to help others combat bias and is a leader in a youth volunteer group, according to the Rev. Terry Troia, executive director of Project Hospitality.
Last night, marked and unmarked police cars lined Port Richmond Avenue, while Spanish-speaking officers spoke to merchants and uniformed officers handed out small cards listing nightlife safety tips.
On some blocks, the police presence was so heavy it appeared that officers outnumbered pedestrians.
Residents and business owners were reluctant to discuss the attacks.
The most recent incident took place despite a phalanx of police officers and the two NYPD collapsible watchtowers deployed to the area last week. The teen was approached by a Hispanic male near the corner of Castleton Avenue and Simonson Place, who apparently distracted him while two African-American males attacked him from behind, law enforcement sources have said.
The men yelled Go home you (expletive) Mexican! as they punched him several times in the face, then took the $10 he was carrying, police said.
Its the 11th attack on the North Shore thats been investigated as a possible bias attack by the NYPDs Hate Crimes Task Force.
Hugo Zuniga, 40, a construction worker who lives in the neighborhood, said hes skeptical the police presence will last more than a few weeks. When something happens, theyre not here. You never know when something is going to happen, Zuniga said.
Zuniga, who came to the United States nine years ago to escape the drug gang violence in his native Mexico City, said he typically travels with two or three friends for safety.
A 31-year-old tavern patron, who noted he had been mugged in the past, said while he was glad to see the police presence throughout the night, his concern is when the NYPD dragnet is lifted.
Meanwhile, elected officials yesterday issued a press release condemning the latest attack.
My heart goes out to the victim of this hateful act. I am shocked and appalled that despite the increase in community awareness and police presence in Port Richmond, another attack has taken place, stated city Councilwoman Debi Rose. Now, more than ever, Islanders must come together to build a stronger, more united Staten Island in order to stop these heinous crimes from taking place.
The recent spate of bias-related hate crimes in Staten Island is a tragedy that warrants the full support of the New York City Council and the attention of all New Yorkers, stated Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Ramon Carreon, a member of the board of directors president at El Centro del Inmigrante issued the following:We immigrants only want to live in peace, care for our families and contribute positively to America. We ask the people who are attacking us to stop the violence, and take our hand in friendship. We are all brothers and sisters. We are all one human family.
Stated Ana Maria Archila of the activist group Make the Road New York: We know that as long as we have policies that fail to recognize the humanity of immigrants, we will continue to see anti-immigrant violence, and now more than ever, we are committed to work to make sure that the policies of our city and country recognize the dignity and humanity of immigrants, LGBT families and low-income New Yorkers.