DA drops bias charge in Bell Blvd. attack

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Charges against a Yonkers resident accused of making racial remarks about a Hispanic man who later allegedly stabbed him at the Voodoo Lounge in Bayside March 23 were dropped last week for lack of evidence, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney said.

Christopher Shaw, 31, of Yonkers, was arrested in early April for allegedly making harassing remarks about Juaquin Ramirez at the Voodoo Lounge at 47-29 Bell Blvd.. On March 23 Ramirez was arrested and charged with assault for allegedly stabbing three men who were taunting him, including Shaw, police said. At the time police had classified the stabbing as a possible bias attack.

Mary de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for Queens DA Richard Brown, said in a telephone interview Monday charges against Shaw were dismissed and the DA’s office had declined to prosecute the case at the hearing May 1.

“There was no evidence of a crime,” she said.

At a Community Board 11 public meeting Monday night in Bayside, civic leaders Mandingo Tshaka, president of the Bayside Clear-Springs Council, and Jerry Iannece, head of the Bayside Hills Civic Association and a city council candidate, decried the DA’s dismissal.

“It’s outrageous,” said Tshaka. “It’s protecting white racism.”

Iannece, a former assistant district attorney in the Bronx, also criticized the district attorney’s finding in the Shaw case.

“I think it should have been prosecuted,” he said. “It’s the wrong message to send.”

Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, said any racist remarks made at the Voodoo Lounge did not justify violence.

“Punishment for nasty, racist hostility is not a knife,” he said. “I was glad no one was killed.”

In e-mail to the TimesLedger Saturday, a person claiming to be Christopher Shaw said there was no racism involved in the Voodoo Lounge attack.

“In no way am I a racist,” the author of the e-mail said. “There was no racial overtones at all.”

He said some of his closest friends were Hispanic.

The sender of the e-mail did not respond to requests for further comment as of presstime Tuesday nor could his identity be confirmed.

The incident at the Voodoo Lounge marked the second violent attack on Bell Boulevard in a month and sparked concern among civic leaders and community groups.

On Feb. 23 a Haitian man was beaten by a group of three to four whites outside the Byzantio Bar and Grill after an argument broke out inside the eatery, police said. Two brothers from Whitestone were arrested and charged in the beating, which was classified as a hate crime.

The suspects in the Byzantio case, Angelo and Guiseppe Gigliotti, were later released on $5,000 bail. The district attorney’s office had asked for $50,000 bail.

After the incident at the Voodoo Lounge, Iannece organized a meeting of Bayside civics, clergy and school representatives to discuss the attacks with the 111th Police Precinct in Bayside.

Several weeks later the Flushing branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also held a meeting to discuss the bias attacks.

In the e-mail, the person claiming to be Shaw also referred to the Byzantio attack.

“I feel very bad about the poor black guy that was beat up on Bell Boulevard. That was an act of cowardice and ignorance. Please do not lump what happened to us with that,” the author of the e-mail said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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