A gay man was brutally beaten with a metal pipe and robbed of his walker while bystanders ignored him in Brooklyn, New York.
More than a month since the attack in his hometown of Coney Island, Jawhar Edwards still has a swollen eye after his eye socket was broken when a man and a woman battered him and threatened to kill him.
As he ducked out of a birthday honouring his late godmother, Edwards went to pass out food to the homeless on the boardwalk by 19th and 21st Streets on 4 November at around 12:30am.
That’s when two people targeted him because he is gay, he told FOX 5 New York, taking off with his mobile phone, coat, money and walker.
The attacked called him a “f****t” and swung at his eye with a metal pole, shattering his eye socket and damaging his vision. He was left writhing in pain on the boardwalk as bystanders simply strolled past, doing nothing.
First responders arrived and brought him to Kings County Hospital to undergo multiple surgeries on his eye.
The New York Police Department arrested Infenent Millington, a 21-year-old homeless man, on Friday (10 December). Millington has been charged with second-degree robbery.
For the last three years, Edwards has gone out to the boardwalk to feed homeless folk at around 10pm.
“I went down to feed the homeless,” Edwards told the outlet.
“In return, I got assaulted, I got gay-bashed, I got robbed of my belongings. I got called a [slur], I got told: ‘If I see you again, I am going to kill you’.”
At a Friday rally organised by assembly member Mathylde Frontus outside her Mermaid Avenue office, Edwards urged law enforcement to treat the incident as a hate crime.
Edwards knows homophobia all too well. It was the third time he has been attacked because of his sexuality, he said. In 2018, a subway rider hurled homophobic insults at him because he bumped into him.
His story, however, echoes a frightening pattern in New York City. According to data from the NYPD, anti-LGBT+ hate crimes have surged a staggering 139 per cent this year alone.
“[Edwards] is not hurting anyone,” Ann Valdez, a community leader, said, Gay City News reported.
“He’s not bothering anyone. He went out there to feed the homeless. He’s not being paid for that.
“He’s doing that out of the kindness of his heart. My question for Coney Island is: ‘Where is your heart?’”