NYC Transgender Shelter Says Director Attacked
NEW YORK (AP) — A priest who runs a shelter specializing in outreach to homeless transgender youths was beaten with construction equipment and paint cans by a group of teenagers in a possible hate crime, authorities said Tuesday.Two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old were awaiting arraignment Tuesday on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon, Queens prosecutors said. A 15-year-old was being charged as a juvenile in the Monday attack outside the Carmen’s Place shelter, prosecutors said.
The four boys gathered in front of Carmen’s Place around 10 p.m. and started harassing and taunting the residents with homophobic slurs and insults, people at the shelter said. The director, the Rev. Louis Braxton Jr., tried to intervene but was attacked with paint cans, a woodworking tool and other objects found along the street, they said.
Braxton, 52, was treated at a hospital for cuts and bruises. A shelter resident also was injured in the attack, which occurred on one of the main thoroughfares in the Astoria neighborhood.
Braxton spoke about the attack on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, violent attacks against transgender youth is not unusual,” he said. “What made this incident so disturbing is that it occurred on a congested and busy New York City street.”
The incident was being investigated by the police Hate Crimes Task Force, and charges could be upgraded if it’s found a hate crime took place.
Carmen’s Place first was established by a missionary named Carmen Solis in the basement of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, where Braxton was pastor. The shelter provides beds and food for youths who have been kicked out of their homes or turned to prostitution.
When the parish closed in 2007 because of financial trouble, Braxton rented a nearby two-bedroom apartment for the shelter, which currently houses about a dozen transgender youths.
The nonprofit runs on a shoestring budget and relies on donations.
Shelter spokesman Reggie Johnson said residents there often are harassed and the attack on Braxton is the latest in a string. He said the shelter is working with community leaders and the local police precinct to help make the area safer for residents.