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As an Ecuadorian immigrant clung to life after falling victim to an apparent hate crime Sunday, leaders of the Ecuadorian community in the city gathered in front of Elmhurst Hospital Center Tuesday to denounce the crime and call for unity.
“He’s in very critical condition, but he’s still alive,” said Francisco Moya of the Ecuadorian Civic Committee, one of many Queens−based Ecuadorian organizations. “They are waiting for the family to arrive from Ecuador.”
Moya denied published reports that Jose Sucuzhanay, 31, was taken off life support at the hospital Tuesday morning.
Police refused to release any new details in the Sunday morning attack, but the New York Post quoted a police source saying that Jose Sucuzhanay left a Mexican bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn, with his brother, Diego, 38, around 3:30 a.m.
The brothers were holding each other up by the arms when an SUV pulled up, three black men jumped out, shouted a slur against gays and bashed Jose in the head with a baseball bat, the Post reported.
Jose Sucuzhnanay was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition, police said.
“It is important for us as a race, as a society, to learn tolerance,” said Diego Sucuzhanay Tuesday. He asked anyone with information on the attack to come forward. “I’m not saying all brothers of color are the same,” he said. “If they saw something, please help the police.”
“We as a society need to come together and denounce this,” Moya said.
Though the attack was the second fatal assault on an Ecuadorian in the metropolitan New York area in a month, several Ecuadorian leaders doubted that Ecuadorians in particular were being targeted.
“It’s not really the Ecuadorian community, it’s the Latino community,” said Jose Borja, president of the Bushwick−based Federacion de Entidades Ecuatorianas en el Exterior. He said a vigil was planned for Saturday along the street where Jose Sucuzhanay was attacked.
But other advocates are warning that authorities are playing down the alleged homophobic angle of the attacks. Seven teens have been charged in the beating death of an Ecuadorian immigrant on a Patchogue, L.I. street on Nov. 8.
“It’s not only Latinos, it’s the LGBT community,” said Karina Claudio, LGBT organizer for the immigrant rights group Make the Road New York. “The [83rd] Precinct has been very hostile toward our LGBT members. They don’t want to make this a gay hate crime.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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