This week, in response to the citywide incidence of hate crimes targeting the gay community, Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has moved to to protect victims by providing them with an outlet to report incidents and seek advocacy.
On Monday, Mr. Hynes announced the formation of a task force within his office comprised of Charles Guria, chief of the Civil Rights Bureau; Marc Fliedner, senior trial attorney in the Homicide Bureau; Beth Scullin, licensed clinical social worker and director of the Victim Services Unit; and Michael Wright, social worker and coordinator of the new Project Reach-Out Program.
The task force, the DA said, will put in place a set of initiatives designed to protect members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community includes a “Project Reach-Out” committee, which will provide resources to members of that community, as well as HIV-positive survivors of violence, with a 24-hour hotline that hate crime victims can call. That number is (718) 250-2759.
Speaking at a recent public ceremony in Plumb Beach where a public park bench was named in honor of Michael Sandy, who in October 2006, was coaxed over the Internet into meeting another male, where he was set up to be robbed, and later was struck and killed by a motor vehicle as he tried to escape from his attackers across the highway.
“Often, biased crime victims are hesitant to come forward and report crimes against them,” Mr. Hynes said, adding: “It is a scary and traumatic experience for them. They may not want to call 911 or walk into their local precinct. The new hotline can help those people.”
Mr. Hynes said the task force is also developing valuable changes to the DA’s crime prevention programs and creating “new changes.” One such program, the DA’s Legal Lives program “with members of the DA’s staff who go into fifth grade classrooms to teach students about the law and its role in their lives, will now add a new bullying lesson plan,” he added.
The Task Force is also partnering with the Brooklyn Community Pride Center to develop a program that will educate local businesses in how to best promote safety for the LGBT community in their neighborhoods, and to facilitate reporting when hate-based violence takes place in their neighborhoods.
“These initiatives do not just protect victims of violence. Bullying against members of this community is something that also needs to be reported and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The Project will involve getting the community to work with us to put an end to the unnecessary violence.”
The District Attorney’s Office will also be hosting a town hall meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall on November 23 in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and the Brooklyn Community Pride Center.