For Immediate Release

Contact: Scott Fearing, Executive Director  585-244-8640

Rochester, NY,  Following a community rally to show support for Nicole Clark a 19 year old trans woman who was brutally attacked in the early morning hours of July 28 the Gay Alliance has been notified that the Rochester Police Department is looking to increase the charges from harassment to hate crime.

“We have been in regular contact with the Police Department and others in the City since the incident occurred,” stressed Scott Fearing, Executive Director of the Gay Alliance.“While the case was initially considered closed after one arrest was made with a charge of harassment, we urged the police to continue the investigation. We were just notified by the Police that they are seeking two additional suspects in the case and that the assault is likely to be charged as a hate crime.”

The incident began when a man and woman walking on the other side of Monroe Ave started verbally harassing Clark who was out walking with her mother. Clark described the incident to the Empty Closet newspaper. “We started to walk away. He ran up behind me and started kicking and punching me, I tried to fight back and his girlfriend jumped me. Than a friend of his came up and joined in beating me.”  When the attackers realized Clark’s mother had called the police, they fled.

Following the attack, Clark was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where she received stitches to her face and attention to cuts and abrasions on her back, arms, and legs.

Clark had recently moved to Rochester from Pennsylvania and felt that Rochester was a safe place for LGBTQ people.  “I really liked the people and decided to move,” she said.

On Thursday August 6, a rally that was held at the intersection of Monroe and Goodman the location where the assault had occurred. Ben Eshleman, whose Facebook event “It Was a Hate Crime,” was the primary organizing tool for the rally, stated that “over 100 people representing the LGBTQ communities and other advocacy organizations showed up to bring needed attention to this crime and to increase awareness of the violence faced by members of the trans communities.”

Julia Acosta presented a platform to the crowd at the rally that included a call to update New York’s Hate Crimes law. “I urge changes to the New York State Penal Code § 485.05 Hate Crimes, to extend the necessary protections against hate crimes to transgender New Yorkers. Amending the penal code language would force police and courts to recognizes the unfortunate reality that trans people are disproportionately targeted with violence.

“The demonstration showed that our community can come together to support each other,“ continued Acosta. “There has been a lot of discussion on the struggle for LGBTQ equal rights after marriage equality. This effort provides a clear goal to ensure that the trans community is protected from violence.

“Today’s announcement from the Rochester Police Department seems to indicate that Rochester may again help to lead the way for trans citizens.”

About GAGV

The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley is a Champion for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer (LGBTQ) Life and Culture. Since 1973, its educational programs, services, resources and events have helped the greater Rochester region become a more inclusive, accepting community for LGBTQ Individuals. With the help of our LGBTQ Allies, we envision a future in which LGBTQ individuals at all stages of their lives are free to be fully participating citizens, living lives in which they are safe, stable and fully respected. The Empty Closet, published by the Gay Alliance, is the oldest newspaper in New York State dedicated to the LGBTQ community.