Workers Vanguard No. 1025

31 May 2013


Outrage Over Anti-Gay Killing in Greenwich Village

NEW YORK—Around midnight on May 17, Mark Carson, a 32-year-old gay black man, was shot in the face at point-blank range in Greenwich Village. The assailant had been following Carson and a companion down the street, taunting them with anti-gay slurs before pulling the trigger. Three days later, thousands protested at a “rally against hate” to express outrage over the killing of Carson, who was open about his sexuality and well-respected by friends and family.

At the rally, which drew an integrated crowd near the site of the murder, Spartacist League supporters distributed our article on the 1998 murder of 18-year-old gay youth Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, which stressed how defense of gay rights is in the interest of the whole of the working class. Much of the protesters’ anger was connected to the sense that the “safety” of the Village—home of the 1969 Stonewall rebellion that sparked the gay rights movement—had been violated. For many years, the Christopher Street area in the Village had been one of very few places where the city’s black and Latino LGBT youth could gather with some sense of security.

Anti-gay terror is not confined to the hinterlands. The media reports a doubling of attacks in New York City compared to last year. Within hours of the rally, at least two separate anti-gay attacks involving beatings in Lower Manhattan were reported. Last week, the cofounder of activist group Queer Rising was punched in the face near Times Square after being called “f--got.”

In the era of gay marriage, when several Democrats (and some Republicans) are preaching tolerance for what is deemed an acceptable, i.e., monogamous and conservatizing, same-sex relationship, many are shocked by such blatant displays of anti-gay hatred. We support equal rights for gays while pointing out that, marriage rights or not, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will continue to face deadly prejudice in this homophobic, class-divided society. Bigotry is not simply a result of narrow-mindedness or lack of education. The special oppression of women as well as gays is materially rooted in the entrenched norms decreed by the sexual division of labor in the family under capitalism and enforced by religious moral codes.

Democratic Party politicians, seizing on this bigoted killing to garner votes for their candidacies, were among the organizers and speakers at the May 20 rally. Christine Quinn, who seeks to replace billionaire Michael Bloomberg and become New York City’s first openly gay mayor, attempted to placate anger by talking up measures to prevent hate crimes in the city. In light of the approaching gay pride demonstrations in June, Quinn called for more police presence in parts of Manhattan.

Gay rights activists should understand that cops—the notoriously racist and brutal NYPD, no less—are not interested in “protecting” gay, lesbian and transgender people. The historic Stonewall riots, ignited following a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, were an act of defiance against commonplace police repression. LGBT people—especially blacks, immigrants, youth and the homeless—are victims of continued harassment and cruelty from the police. Recent protests against the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” program have emphasized how gays and lesbians who are black—and thus face caste oppression based on the color of their skin—are doubly profiled and subject to police violence. Back in January, a 32-year-old black man, Jabbar Campbell, suffered a concussion and bruises from police beatings after his Brooklyn house was targeted during a gay pride party attended by transsexual and transvestite guests. Campbell, who is facing trumped up charges, has reported continued harassment by the cops.

A New York Times article last October on “vice” along a busy avenue in a heavily immigrant section of Queens described how gays and transgender people are repeatedly profiled as prostitutes and arrested by cops. One organizer for a community-based Latino group stated, “If a crime happens, people are not going to report it, because they don’t trust the police.”

In fact, one of the reasons accurate statistics for anti-gay attacks are almost impossible to determine is that many victims do not come forward out of fear of persecution from the authorities. And when cops are not carrying out the abuse themselves, they do a fine job ignoring or covering up the crime. When 62-year-old Queens resident and gay rights activist Louis Rispoli was found twitching on the pavement after a brutal assault last October, cops determined “no crime had been committed” and are currently obstructing an investigation into the incident. Rispoli died later from severe brain injuries.

Cops act to maintain and defend the capitalist order, from which every manner of racial and sexual oppression springs. Many LGBT activists try to exert pressure on the capitalist rulers to enact “hate crimes” legislation as a way to “deter” anti-gay violence. Such laws give a false sense of protection and put another weapon in the hands of the capitalist state that will be used to terrorize minority communities.

In capitalist America—a dictatorship of a tiny minority who exploit the working masses—economic and social desperation breed vile anti-gay hostility and other bourgeois rot. Anti-black racism, together with deep-going male chauvinism and religious backwardness, has historically been used by the capitalists to divide the working class. The same rulers who are hell-bent on shredding the hard-fought gains of unions and whose cops gun down black youth and Latinos on the streets have fostered the conditions in which attacks against gays can flourish. The fates of all those subject to oppression—homosexuals, women, immigrants, black people—are completely intertwined. The working class can never be won to an understanding of its historic role as the gravedigger of capitalism without a relentless fight against all manifestations of social prejudice and backward consciousness.

It will take proletarian revolution to sweep away the system that spawned the depraved killing of Mark Carson. The Spartacist League is committed to forging the vanguard party—a Leninist tribune of the people—needed to lead the working class to that victory. Only then can we begin to build a truly egalitarian, socialist society.