Man throws hot coffee at individual, calls homophobic slur in Port Washington

Man throws hot coffee at individual, calls homophobic slur in Port Washington
Rainbow renditions of the Port Washington Fire Department and Port Washington Police Department logos drawn on the bay walk. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

A person had hot coffee thrown in their face and was called a homophobic slur by an individual on Port Washington’s Main Street Saturday afternoon, and local LGBTQ+ organization Be The Rainbow is calling it a hate crime.

Melanie D’Arrigo, co-founder of Be The Rainbow who has been in contact with the victim, said the person was standing outside of Starbucks on Main Street when a man threw a cup of hot coffee in their face and yelled the slur.

The attacker then fled the scene on his motorcycle.

D’Arrigo said the attack was unprovoked and there was no engagement between the victim and their aggressor prior to the attack.

“The victim was standing there as any other resident of the town might be, minding their own business,” D’Arrigo said.

D’Arrigo declined to disclose the victim’s identity for their privacy.

It is unknown if the victim sustained any injuries at this time.

“Right now our priority is making sure that the victim feels supported, gets the resources they need and just recovers in a way that is dignified,” D’Arrigo said. “We are here for that person.”

D’Arrigo said the Port Washington Police Department is investigating the attack. Staff from the police department said they could not provide any information and did not confirm whether or not an investigation is taking place.

While it is unknown the conduct of the police in addressing this situation, D’Arrigo called this a hate crime due to the use of the homophobic slur and the attack that coincided with it.

“It’s very serious,” D’Arrigo said. “Many of us have experienced unkind name calling and things of that nature throughout our lives, but to raise to the level of actually burning someone, throwing hot coffee at them, this is a whole other level and it needs to be treated with a level of seriousness – and I think it is.”

D’Arrigo said that they have received information that the police are taking this attack seriously.

D’Arrigo said Be The Rainbow, the LGBTQ+ community and the broader Port community are heartbroken in the wake of this attack.

She said Be The Rainbow was created with the mission of fostering LGBTQ+ positivity and creating a welcoming space so LGBTQ+ people feel that Port Washington “is just as much their town as everyone else.”

She said this is especially important in the wake of the attack, as being a local organization lends to a quicker response in addressing the needs of the town and its LGBTQ+ community.

“This incident, while horrific, I think it really underscores the importance of that work,” D’Arrigo said.

She said during the three years after the establishment of Be The Rainbow, there has been an outpouring of support for the LGBTQ+ community in Port Washington. She said the organization’s work has contributed to making the lives of the community better and more supported.

With the Supreme Court decision on Friday that decided businesses could restrict their services to LGBTQ+ people, D’Arrigo said the attack the following day is no coincidence.

“National politics have an effect on us locally,” D’Arrigo said. “It is so important that we locally act and that we make sure on a local level we are building the kind of community that makes us proud. That’s consistent with the work Be The Rainbow has done, and it will be consistent with the work moving forward.”

She said this is also exacerbated by a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationally.

“These are the effects of that hatred,” D’Arrigo said.

D’Arrigo said Be The Rainbow is looking at ways to prevent this from happening again in the future. She said they are talking with North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte to potentially establish a co-sponsored town event on how to be an upstander for LGBTQ+ people.

She said Be The Rainbow tries to “shine light in the darkness” and that the way to combat hate is with love.

“Port Washington has always been a diverse place, it’s always been an accepting place and we will always work and continue to work hard to make sure that that remains the case,” D’Arrigo said.

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