A Queens tattoo parlor manager was arrested in November for allegedly assaulting a customer after an argument escalated into an anti-gay tirade. But a local council member says that the police refused to investigate the incident as a hate crime, and is hosting a rally in Queens tomorrow to bring more attention to the incident.
On November 3rd, Elmhurst resident Jeremy Valarezo and his husband Joseph Sokolowski made a purchase of a tobacco pipe using a credit card at Village Moon tattoo parlor in Jackson Heights. Manager Mohammed Hoque apparently insisted on photocopying Sokolowski's driver's license, and when he said he felt uncomfortable with that and refused, Hoque said he would give him his money back. But then they got into a verbal dispute, which culminated in Hoque called them "faggots."
You can see a short clip of the fight below, including the use of the derogatory word:
WATCH: Village Moon tattoo parlor manager calls local residents, a married gay couple, "faggots" then punches one of them. We will not let this stand! Queens must remain a safe place for LGBTQ+ people.
Anti-hate rally tomorrow, 10am. pic.twitter.com/be9ejHPn3u
— Daniel Dromm (@Dromm25) January 21, 2019
After Valarezo and Sokolowski left the shop, Hoque allegedly assaulted them (the punch was not captured on video). Police confirmed to Gothamist that Hoque was arrested for punching Valarezo in the face, and given a desk appearance ticket. Sokolowski was also arrested for criminal mischief for knocking down a mannequin as he was exiting the store; although he was initially charged with a felony, and kept overnight in jail, the charge was later lowered to a Class A misdemeanor.
You can see Valarezo's bruises after the punch below:
Council member Daniel Dromm is hosting a rally at 10 a.m. at 78th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights on Tuesday, January 22nd, to demand the NYPD investigate the incident as a hate crime. "In Jackson Heights, one of the largest LGBTQ communities in New York, such hate violence should never be tolerated—least of all by the NYPD," Dromm said in a press release.
"Police were shown video of the verbal assault, but refused to investigate it as a hate crime, and that's what we're outraged about," said Dromm's communications director Michael Mallon.
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) January 21, 2019
Queens is the most diverse county in the nation if not the world. There is no place for this hatred. I applaud @Dromm25 and @Ali_Najmi for standing up and keeping our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters safe. This cannot be tolerated and we must hold ppl accountable for their actions. https://t.co/fglGxiIkJw
— Mina Malik (@MMalikNYC) January 21, 2019
— Will Giron (@hamzgiron) January 21, 2019
Valarezo and Sokolowski's attorney Ali Najmi added that the whole incident occurred over a $46 purchase, which did not seem to necessitate photocopying an ID (Sokolowski had willingly shown his ID to Haque for the credit card purchase). "We are demanding all charges against Mr. Sokolowski be dismissed and for the Queens DA to elevate Mr. Hoque's charges as a hate crime," he told Gothamist.