Early Saturday morning, on Broadway near Putnam Avenue in Bushwick, an altercation occurred between a group of four men dressed as women and three other men, Cody Sigue, 22, Matthew Smith, 21, and Tavon Johnson, 17, who shouted anti-gay slurs at the group of four as they pursued them on foot; Smith shot at the group, wounding one man in the buttocks.
DNAinfo reports that Smith, who had 16 prior arrests, has been charged with attempted murder, assault, and menacing, with each charge designated as a hate crime. Sigue and Johnson, each with two prior arrests, have also been charged with menacing as a hate crime, as well as aggravated harassment. The incident comes just three weeks after Bushwig, an annual Bushwig drag festival held near the intersection of Flushing and Knickerbocker Avenues.
Last May, 32-year-old Marc Carson was killed in the West Village, shot point-blank in the head not five minutes from the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the birthplace of the gay rights movement. His killer, 33-year-old Elliot Morales, was charged with murder as a hate crime. It was a harrowing reminder of the hate that still exists here, in this place and in this era, even in the affirming shadow of the Stonewall.
Lest we ever forget, New York City is a city of multiplicity. Any given train line passes through a different city at every station, and it would be a mistake to think it’s all the same just because it’s all in one place. By some grace, Saturday’s shooting in Bushwick was not fatal, but by all appearances it was intended to be. It may seem reasonable to talk about bad neighborhoods, or dangerous areas, but when a man in a dress can incite someone to murder, we have a deep-seated and terrifying culture problem, from Halsey Street to Christopher Street.
Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.