In 2009 during Gay Pride Weekend and the 40th Anniversary os the Stonewall Riots, Driton Nicaj committed three assaults on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, including one attack on a gay man which was originally charged as a hate crime. And what was his sentence? 45 days. Because the Judge who heard the case, Judge Ronald A. Zweibel dismissed the hate crime elements like callinf domeone “faggot,” while you beat the shit out them because it was “just typical trash-talking.”
“It makes me sick to my stomach,” said Joseph Holladay, (pictured above) who was assaulted on East 85th Street. “It’s not justice. I didn’t expect him to go away for years… I certainly didn’t expect it to end up being 45 days.”
In a deal with the Manhattan district attorney, Nicaj pleaded guilty to the assaults and began his sentence on May 20. He was released on June 9, of this year after accounting for time served and good behavior.
Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), which serves the queer community, agreed. “Faggot is a word that is used in a very specific context and with a very specific meaning,” she said. “To us, it’s clear that this is a hate crime.”
But wait it gets even worse……
The victim Joesph Holland is also critical of AVP, which highlighted his case by including him in a July 1 press conference where it released its annual hate crime statistics. “They were no help whatsoever,” Holland says. “These people, the AVP, are supposed to be checking in with the police, checking in with the DA, looking out for my interests…They were just useless.”
And of course Sharon Stapel will not respond to Hollands remarks citing that AVP doesn’t discuss thier clients. (Even though their clients will discuss them.)
Tell me, do we have even ONE large LGBT Organization that is NOT inept?