Two gay men who were beaten at a restaurant in New York City say they’re angry that employees didn’t do anything to stop the attack.
On September 12, Alberto Cruz, 36, and Daniel Dominguez, 39, were eating at Pollos Mario in Jackson Heights, Queens, at around 4:30 am. They say that a group of eight men started shouting anti-gay slurs at them, although police later said that it was four to six men.
“We were eating together and probably that’s how they assumed we were partners or something,” said Dominguez. The men are roommates.
“Everything started with one of them,” Dominguez told the New York Daily News. “He started saying, ‘Why you guys looking at me? I’m not gay, I’m a father. Why do you guys think that everyone who comes in here is a faggot?'”
“Everything happened so fast from one minute to another we were surrounded by all of them,” he told WLNY. “They hit me first. They hit me with a bottle or glass.”
“It’s scary because five people around table so obviously they’re going to do something,” Cruz said.
Cruz said that he needed 40 stitches because there was “a lot of blood,” and Dominguez suffered a broken nose. They were both taken to the hospital.
“I’m still very concerned about what happened,” said Cruz. “I’m still really afraid and really nervous.”
The men say that the worst part is that restaurant employees – not even the security guard – helped them. They say they were told to finish eating and leave.
The group Make the Road New York held a rally outside Pollos Mario.
“What the security guard told him was, you both should finish eating and you should go, instead of providing any kind of support,” said activist Mateo Guerrero. “This is completely unacceptable.”
“I am distraught that I have to be here. Protecting the LGBTQI community means to me an everyday job for all of us. Not just for our neighbors, but for our business neighbors,” Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said at the rally. “This isn’t just about being a part of the amazing parade we do here every year. It isn’t just about waving the flag. The real work is when an incident like this happens.”
Restaurant employee Jacqueline Franco, though, says that security footage tells a different story. She did not say if she was actually present for the attack, but she said that video shows that Cruz and Dominguez may have been drunk and that they started the fight with the group of men.
“I just don’t think it’s fair that they aren’t taking responsibility for starting the incident,” she told Patch.
“It’s just unfair to blame an entire establishment as anti-gay.”
She said that the restaurant will not release the video of two gay men deciding to beat up a group of four to six men, but that they have handed it over to police.
Police said that the alleged assailants drove away before they got to the restaurant. No arrests have been made.