A homeless man has been charged with hate crimes after he allegedly defecated on a Pride flag in a New York restaurant.
New York Police released a CCTV appeal following an incident at Buceo 95, a tapas bar on W. 95th St. and Broadway on the Upper West Side, on April 15. NYPD’s statement said a man entered a restaurant and defecated on a rainbow flag, before he “took a second Pride flag and wiped his backside with it”.
Fred Innocent, 45, has now been charged with several hate crimes in relation to the incident, say reports. It comes after a video was shared on social media by NYPD.
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NYPD’s appeal reads: “The unidentified individual entered the location and defecated on a Pride flag”. It also added that information would be rewarded with up to $3,500.
The restaurant where the incident took place is an inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly establishing. The restaurant’s general manager, Nathan Nolen Edwards, said that the restaurant has “a very inclusive, largely LGBTQ-identifying staff”, including professional drag queens.
He said: “It’s definitely a punch to the gut … We certainly haven’t experienced anything to this degree. A defecation on a Pride flag is not the norm here.”
The owner of the restaurant, Courtney Barroll, told the New York Post that she will not back down following the alleged hate crime, as she plans to “put 50 more (Pride flags) up… for the two flags that he has taken from us”.
Similar attacks against the LGBTQ+ community have been common in New York over the past year.
The incidents include a couple attacked in the city’s popular tourist destination Times Square, a man was stabbed and received a significant amount of homophobic abuse in LGBTQ+ neighbourhood Hell’s Kitchen, and an ongoing case of two men being drugged and robbed after leaving LGBTQ+ venues, which have been ruled as homicides.
Innocent, whose gave a homeless shelter in Harlem as his address, was charged with burglary, harassment and trespassing, all as hate crimes, reports the New York Daily News. He was also hit with additional trespassing charges and burglary, not as a hate crime.