I’ve gotten a lot of calls regarding the bias crime incident that occurred in Hoboken on Friday night (Saturday AM) and I wanted to share with all of you the information that I currently have — some of which you may know . . . some may be news . . . but here it is:
The victims were a couple from Society Hill in Jersey City. They were attacked by 2 men, Shane Valle, 26, of Hackensack and Felix Fara Saadi, 25, of Mahwah who are both (still as of last night) being held at the Hudson County Jail on $10,000 cash bail (no bond). The attack occurred around the corner and up a block from The Cage on River Street (about halfway between the corner and the parking garage). The victims sufferred relatively minor injuries — mostly cuts and bruising (no broken bones). The report of one of the victims being kicked in the head is true; however, he did not suffer any serious injury as a result.
I have been working with authorities in Hoboken to do what I can to ensure that both the victims and the perpitrators are appropriately dealt with. Perps are charged with bias intimidation and simple assault (which to the best of my understanding are appropriate charges under current law). Under current NJ Law, in order to qualify to be charged with Aggrivated Assault (the next level up in charges) there would have needed to be a deadly weapon involved (Aggrivated Assault also applies to agents of government as well i.e. DCF workers, but that doesn’t apply here). Under current law (as I understand it) these men are facing up to 6 months in prision on the assault charge and 3-5 years for the bias intimidation charge. They shouldn’t be walking around any time soon.
I also met with Alan Fox last night and he is working with Cage staff to determine what the best response should be from the bar.
My opinions based the information I’ve been able to gather (regarding some questions I’ve been asked):
Did the cops act appropriately? Absolutely. This was a bias attack and there was no hesitation to charge appropriately. The initial police report went so far as to request that the defendants be held without bail. I would like to have seen the police able to PREVENT this attack rather than respond to it, but that’s another battle.
Is this incident the fault of The Cage or thier staff? No. This occurred around the corner and a block away. Yes, these guys were coming from The Cage, but the bar’s staff can’t be everywhere in Hoboken. The only blame here rests on the heads of the 2 assholes who decided to attack a gay couple because they were hugging on a corner.
Is Hoboken unsafe for LGBT patrons? I don’t think we as a community can paint Hoboken with that brush. There will always be someone, somewhere looking to cause harm to others. As I said earlier, I’d like to see a stronger police presence, but I won’t be chased out of the city by two out-of-towners who happen to be small-minded feaks. (although I do hope they find appropriate cell mates)
What’s Hudson Diversity’s plan in response to this? The first thing I’m going to do is head to the Cage on Friday night. The best thing we as a community can do is show that we’re not intimidated by this type of behavior. I think we should pack the place to the walls to show our support both for Hoboken’s Gay Bar, and for the victims. HDAC will be talking to local authorities about safety concerns in that area and how best to address them, but that plan will take time. Outside of that, I’m personally going to head out on Friday night and be PROUD! Join me?
Walt Boraczek, President
Hudson Diversity Action Council