For the second time in the last two months, New York Police are investigating a suspected arson at Alibi Lounge as a possible hate crime.
As USA Today reported earlier this morning, a “rainbow flag was set on fire at the entrance to [the] gay bar” in the early morning hours between 12:20 a.m. and 12:45 a.m. A little over a month ago, NYPD had begun “investigating a possible anti-gay bias crime after rainbow flags at the [same] Harlem bar’s entrance were torched just after midnight May 31, a day before the start of the city’s Pride Month celebrations.”
USA Today pointed out that Alibi Lounge owner Alexi Minko has seen other recent incidents at the property as well. On July 4, Minko told The Associated Press, “a staff member also had to remove the rainbow flags from the bar’s entrance… because people on the street ‘were intentionally setting off firecrackers’ at the front door.”
FBI Analysis Finds Uptick in Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes, Likely Understated
Worryingly, the latest flag-burning at Alibi fits into a pattern of incidents suggesting a rising tide of anti-LGBT hate crimes nationwide.
As USA Today also reported in late June
Hate crimes against LGBTQ people have been on a slight rise over the past three years, according to FBI data. While most hate crimes in the U.S. are motivated by bias toward race and religion, the number of crimes based on sexual orientation rose each year from 2014 to 2017, when 1,130 incidents were reported. Of those crimes, a majority targeted gay men.
By late last month, many other hate crimes involved targeted attacks on trans Americans, including at least 11 homicides. Every one of those killings, according to Human Rights Campaign reports, was of a black trans woman. (The total number of homicides, 11, does not include Johana “Joa” Medina or Layleen Polanco, two other trans women of color. Medina died just after release from ICE custody at a hospital in El Paso, Texas; Polanco’s death occurred in a Riker’s Island jail cell, with no reports of the exact cause to date.)
USA Today pointed out in its reporting that FBI data likely understate the true extent of nationwide hate crime incidents, though. “A better gauge of hate crime trends in the U.S.,” explained reporter Grace Hauck, “may be the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), a household-based survey administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.” The NCVS estimates as many as 200,000 such crimes occur annually, accounting for all targets from race, ethnicity and religion to sexuality and gender identity.
Overall FBI estimates, meanwhile, are closer to just 7,500 hate crimes per year, Hauck reported.
(Source: USA Today)