After the fifth bias attack in Staten Island since April, locals and officials are scrambling to figure out how to stop the hate. Though officials have introduced the "We Are Staten Island" coalition—aimed at opening a dialogue between schools, minority groups and community patrols about the violence—locals say that might not work.
A town hall meeting is planned for Thursday, but one resident told WCBS that they already had a town hall meeting two months ago, and nothing changed. Another notes that many of the attacks had more complicated motives than just race. Austin Dunning said, "A lot of the times, it may seem like there's young black people that's beating up the Mexicans. At the same time it was something prior to that. It was them trying to jump on the black people. So, a lot of times, it was just like a retaliation kind of thing."
However, officials believe the coalition will work to engage the residents. Rev. Terry Troia of El Centrol Del Immigrante told WABC, "Absolutely, there is fear in the community to walk alone at night to walk alone at anytime. But what I saw at this table today were serious people. I know everybody at that table and I know that they're serious on trying to find an answer."
The first in the wave of attacks came in early April, when Mexican immigrant Rodulfo Olmedo was savagely beaten by four baseball bat-wielding teens. Two more Mexican immigrants were attacked in the same way shortly after, and then in June 52-year-old Alejandro Galindo was left hospitalized by three men. Last week two teens were left hospitalized after a possibly racially motivated brawl near South Beach. And police are investigating a gay bashing at a Staten Island White Castle as a hate crime.
Thursday's meeting will be organized by City Councilwoman Debi Rose, who wants to make it clear that the borough will not stand for violence. She said at a meeting on Monday, "We are here today to resoundingly make it very clear to the criminals who commit these crimes that you are weak. You are the lowest among us and there is no one on this island or in this city that supports you."