Two men have been arraigned on charges of assault as a hate crime after an alleged rock-throwing attack on a transgender female in Queens on Wednesday night. Carmella Etienne, 22, says she walking by the corner of 116th Avenue and 199th Street in St. Albans when two men shouted anti-gay slurs and threatened to cut her throat. (NY1 reports they even threatened to sodomize her with a baseball bat.) After promising to call the police, the two suspects allegedly said, "The police don't care about you, they won't do anything to us." Rocks and a bottle were thrown, and Etienne sustained a deep cut to her leg.
Nathaniel Mims, 25, of the Bronx and Rasheed Thomas, 22, of Queens, were arrested at the scene, but Candy Brown, a friend of one of the suspects, tells NY1 cops got the wrong guys: "He stopped right here, started doing his little vogue-ing thing, cause that's what they do. And I guess the guy that is with my friend he didn't like he, you know 'Go outta here with that, you know, no one wants to see that' and he went about his business. Somebody else or whatever started throwin rocks or whatever, but they were here. They didn't have anything to do with it."
Thomas, one of the suspects, told prosecutors after the arrest, "I didn't know you could get locked up for calling somebody names. I called her a bunch of names. I called her a [expletive deleted], but she didn't see me throw anything." Etienne, 22, moved to Queens from Haiti six years ago and soon began her transformation from male to female. (According to CBS2, she's medically and legally a woman.) Both suspects are being held on $5,000 bail; if convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.
Etienne tells the Daily News, "The law will hopefully put them to justice. I love being myself." And Brendan Fay, a leader in the LGBT community in Queens, says, "There's mounting concern in the community and anger at the violence and prejudice." Last month another transgender woman was assaulted with a belt buckle by two men in Jackson Heights, and during Gay Pride Weekend a group of young men on the Upper East Side beat a man while calling him a "faggot."