NYC Gay Bar Arson Suspect Caught

Two pride flags were burned in front of Harlem’s Alibi Lounge on the eve of Pride Month, May 31, 2019. Image via Pix 11.

A second fire at Harlem’s Alibi Lounge started with a burning rainbow flag early Monday morning led to considerable publicity, an NYPD investigation and, The Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman reported earlier this evening, an arrested suspect. 

The Daily Beast reports that NYPD has arrested Tyresse Singleton, 20, of Manhattan, who “is charged with two counts each of criminal mischief as a hate crime and arson [and] was awaiting arraignment in Manhattan criminal court Tuesday night.”

As I wrote yesterday, the rainbow flag arsons at Alibi seem to fit a pattern: a noticeable uptick in hate crimes generally, including attacks against LGBTQ+ persons specifically, nationwide. In this case, Teeman explains, the “suspect had been apprehended thanks to a Crimestoppers tip” after NYPD “released footage of both incidents to encourage witnesses to come forward.” Monday morning’s arson was the second targeting Alibi’s pride flags in front of the bar entrance, the first occurring just before the start of Pride Month, in late May.

Arson charges in connection with hate crimes are rare. In 2016, just seven incidents of hate-motivated arson were reported in the State of New York. Religious identity and race/ethnicity were the bases for 52 and 25.6 percent of all 2016 cases, respectively, while LGBTQ+ New Yorkers were targeted in roughly one in five attacks. 

If Singleton is charged and ultimately convicted, New York’s hate crime statutes may elevate the class of the crime charged, impose a sentencing enhancement (lengthening any prison term) or both. 

As several quoted in The Daily Beast pointed out, Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood is and long has been a “diverse” and “warm and accepting” community, leading many locals to be shocked by the repeated arsons at Alibi. Local organizations, Harlem Pride and the Black and Latino LGBTQ Coalition, also “plan to present [owner Alexi] Minko with new rainbow flags to put up,” Teeman reports. And, as Alibi’s Minko reminded everyone, they’ll be “open seven days a week from 5pm to 4am.”

We gladly raise a glass to some well-deserved relief for Minko, Alibi and their community, all hopefully feeling a little more at ease tonight.

(Source: The Daily Beast)

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