MetroFocus: January 18, 2023

NYC COUNCILMEMBER ERIK BOTTCHER DISCUSSES RECENT CRIMES AGAINST THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY

New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher and New York Times reporter Liam Stack join MetroFocus to discuss the latest developments in recent crimes against members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, A LOOK AT THE CRIMES IMPACTING NEW YORK CITY'S LGBTQIA PLUS RESIDENTS, TRANSPHOBIA, ATTACKS BY RIGHT WING EXTREMISTS AND MURDERS WORTHY OF ITS OWN TRUE CRIME SHOW HAVE MADE HEADLINES.

ALL THAT AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WALKENHEIM III, BERNARD AND DENISE SWARTZ AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

A DISTURBING PATTERN OF CRIME IS EMERGING HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, AFTER NIGHTS OUT ON THE TOWN PARTICULARLY AT NEW YORK'S GAY BARS.

SEVERAL MEN HAVE REPORTED BEING DRUGGED AND LET INTO TAXIS OR UBERS UNAWARE OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO THEM.

SOME OF THESE MEN HAVE REPORTED WAKING UP THE NEXT MORNING WITH LITTLE TO NO MEMORY OF WHAT OCCURRED THE NIGHT BEFORE.

AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS DRAINED FROM THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS.

OTHERS HAVE NOT WOKEN UP AT ALL.

SOME ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE, A NUMBER OF THESE KILLINGS REMAIN UNSOLVED, INCLUDING THE MURDERS OF JULIO RAMIREZ AND JOHN UBERGER, TWO GAY MEN KILLED AND ROBBED AFTER ATTENDING GAY BARS IN HELL'S KITCHEN.

THE NYPD DO NOT BELIEVE THE MEN WERE SPECIFICALLY TARGETED BECAUSE OF THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION.

BUT THE RECENT KILLINGS COMBINED WITH OTHER NOTABLE ANTI-LGBTQIA PLUS INCIDENTS HERE IN NEW YORK CITY HAVE LEFT THE GAY COMMUNITY ON EDGE.

JOINING ME NOW WITH MORE ON THIS DISTURBING TREND OF CRIMES AND AN UPDATE ON SEVERAL PROMINENT HOMOPHOBIC INSTANCES FROM AND AROUND NEW YORK CITY ARE LIAM STACK AND COUNCILMAN LIAM IS A REPORTER FOR 'THE NEW YORK TIMES.'

COUNCILMAN HAS HIMSELF BEEN THE TARGET OF RECENT ANTI-LGBTQIA PLUS PROTESTS.

I WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME YOU BOTH TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

LIAM, I WANT TO START WITH THE TWO KILLINGS I MENTIONED IN THE INTRO.

JUST GET AN UPDATE ON WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT WHAT HAS -- AT LEAST WHERE THESE CASES ARE.

COULD THESE POSSIBLY GO COLD?

IS THERE PERHAPS SOME MORE INFORMATION?

I THINK IT'S UNLIKELY THEY WILL GO COLD.

THERE'S A LOT OF INFORMATION OUT THERE, A LOT OF DATA THE POLICE CAN TRACK DOWN.

THERE'S A TON OF EVIDENCE IN THESE CASES.

I THINK AT THE MOMENT THERE'S NOT A LOT OF UPDATES SINCE THE TIME OF THIS STORY LAST MONTH.

AS I MENTIONED ALSO THAT AS OF RIGHT NOW, THE POLICE ARE SAYING THEY DON'T BELIEVE THESE ARE TARGETED BECAUSE OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION.

AND YET, THE CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE POINTS TO SOMETHING GOING ON.

HAS YOUR REPORTING UNEARTHED ANYTHING ELSE THAT MIGHT EXPLAIN WHAT IS THE UNDERLYING ISSUE?

THE MOTIVE SEEMS TO BE THEFT.

THE QUESTION IS, ARE THEY TARGETING GAY BARS, PEOPLE WHO DID THIS, FOR ANY SPECIFIC REASON?

IS IT BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY WILL BE EASIER TARGETS?

THAT'S UNCLEAR.

THERE'S SIMILAR CRIMES LIKE THIS AT OTHER BARS IN THE CITY, AT STRAIGHT BARS IN LOWER MANHATTAN.

IT'S NOT COMPLETELY UNHEARD OF FOR SOMEONE TO BE DRUGGED AND ROBBED.

THE ISSUE HERE IN THIS CASE HAS BEEN THE PATTERN, HAS BEEN THE NUMBER OF CASES.

WHEN WE WROTE THE STORY LAST MONTH, I HAD SPOKEN TO FIVE MEN IN ADDITION TO THE FAMILIES OF JULIO AND JOHN.

AFTER THAT STORY, I INTERVIEWED 15 OR 20 MORE WHO HAD SIMILAR THINGS HAPPEN TO THEM.

THERE IS A PATTERN HERE.

JUST TO BE CLEAR, FOR PEOPLE WHO -- IF THEY HAVEN'T HAD A CHANCE TO READ YOUR STORY, WHICH WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO.

BUT WAS THIS TAKING -- WERE THESE DRUGGINGINGS TAKING PLACE THE BAR OR ONCE THEY LEFT?

IT'S UNCLEAR WHERE THEY WERE ADMINISTERED.

PEOPLE I HAVE SPOKEN TO FOR THE MOST PART HAVE NO MEMORY OF MEETING THE PERSON WHO DRUGGED THEM.

THERE ARE A COUPLE OF GUYS WHO WERE OFFERED DRUGS LEAVING A BAR AND THEN THEIR MEMORY DISAPPEARS.

IN THOSE CASES, IT SEEMS LIKE THEY WERE OFFERED DRUGS ON THEIR WAY OUT OF DOOR.

SOME FOLKS, THEIR LAST MEMORY MIGHT BE TURNING AROUND AFTER HAVING TALKED TO A FRIEND OR TURNING BACK TO THEIR DRINK AND THEY DIDN'T REALIZE SOMETHING WAS SLIPPED IN THE DRINK WHILE THEY HAD THEIR BACK TURNED.

IT SEEMS LIKE PEOPLE INSIDE THE BARS ARE DOING THIS.

COUNCILMAN, I WANT TO BRING YOU INTO THE CONVERSATION.

I WANT TO GET AT LEAST SOME PERSPECTIVE ON THE RELEVANCE OR IMPORTANCE THAT GAY BARS ACTUALLY PLAY IN GAY NIGHT LIFE.

THIS ISN'T JUST YOUR TYPICAL CORNER BAR WHERE PEOPLE MIGHT GO TO BLOW OFF STEAM.

THERE'S A RICHER HISTORY GOING ON HERE.

YOU ARE RIGHT.

ONE OF THE REASONS WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO THE LLGBTQ COMMUNITY, WHETHER THEY ARE HATE CRIMES AND WHETHER OR NOT JOHN AND JULIO WERE TARGETED BECAUSE THEY WERE GAY, BECAUSE THIS IS HAPPENING TO OUR COMMUNITY RIGHT NOW IN NIGHT LIFE VENUES, IT IS CAUSING A GREAT DEAL OF DISTRESS, BECAUSE OUR NIGHT LIFE VENUES HAVE BEEN UNDER ATTACK.

THE SHOOTING IN COLORADO SPRINGS THAT LEFT FIVE PEOPLE DEAD.

OTHER ATTACKS ON OUR COMMUNITY.

THE IMPORTANCE OF NIGHT LIFE VENUES IN OUR COMMUNITY IS HARD TO OVERSTATE.

BECAUSE FOR SO MANY OF US, THEY ARE THE FIRST PLACES WHERE WE EVER WALKED INTO A ROOM AND FELT COMFORTABLE BEING OURSELVES.

TO THIS DAY, IT'S ONE OF THE ONLY PLACES IN ANY CITY YOU GO TO, YOU KNOW YOU CAN WALK INTO A NIGHT LIFE VENUE, AN LGBTQ NIGHT LIFE VENUE AND BE WITH OTHER PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELF.

THAT'S WHY THESE BARS HAVE BEEN TARGETED BY THE FAR EXTREME RIGHT.

AND THAT'S WHY THESE LATEST CRIMES IN HELL'S KITCHEN AND AROUND NEW YORK CITY HAVE CAUSED SO MUCH ANGER AND DISTRESS.

JUST FROM A CITY PERSPECTIVE.

EVER SINCE THE PANDEMIC, WHICH OF COURSE IS STILL ONGOING, BUT WE HAVE HAD SEVERAL CONVERSATIONS AND STORIES ABOUT THE CITY'S COMEBACK, HOW NEW YORK IS DOING NOW THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING OUT AGAIN AND THEY ARE INTERMINGLING.

THERE'S BEEN EMPHASIS ON PEOPLE BEING BACK TOGETHER IN PLACES.

IS THIS ALSO A THREAT TO THE FUNCTIONING OF THE CITY'S INFAMOUS NIGHT LIFE, WHICH, OF COURSE, IS WORLD RENOWNED?

IT IS SO IMPORTANT THAT WE MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE SAFE WHEN THEY GO OUT.

THIS WAS A PROBLEM BEFORE RECENT YEARS, PEOPLE GETTING DRUGGED IN NIGHTCLUBS.

IT'S ALWAYS BEEN AN ISSUE.

IT'S ALWAYS BEEN SOMETHING THAT WE TELL PEOPLE IS, WATCH YOUR DRINK.

NOW POST PANDEMIC, WE ARE EXPERIENCING A GOLDEN AGE OF NIGHT LIFE IN NEW YORK.

IN MY DISTRICT ALONE, THERE'S BEEN MANY BARS, QUEER NIGHT LIFE VENUES THAT HAVE OPENED SINCE THAT IS SO GREAT.

WE NEED IT SO BADLY.

BUT WE HAVE BEEN REALLY OUT THERE TRYING TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT NIGHT LIFE, SAFETY TIPS, WATCH YOUR DRINK, TELL PEOPLE WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND WHO YOU ARE GOING WITH.

IF YOU LEAVE WITH SOMEONE THAT YOU JUST MET, MAKE SURE YOUR FRIENDS KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND WHO YOU ARE WITH.

TURN OFF THE FACIAL RECOGNITION FEATURE ON YOUR BANKING APPS.

WHAT THE POLICE BELIEVE IS THAT IN MANY OF THE CRIMES, A PERSON HAS BEEN DRUGGED AND THEY HOLD THE PHONE UP TO THE PERSON'S FACE AND IT UNLOCKS YOUR BANKING APP.

THESE ARE THE KIND OF TIPS THAT WE ARE TRYING TO GET OUT THERE TO THE COMMUNITY.

OF COURSE.

ONE MORE QUESTION.

WHEN IT COMES TO -- AS WE HEARD, OF COURSE, FROM LIAM THAT THIS HAS BEEN A PROBLEM, OF COURSE, IN NIGHT LIFE.

IT HAS BEEN REPORTED IN OTHER BARS.

AGAIN, WHY IS IT UNIQUELY A CRISIS OR PROBLEMATIC, DANGEROUS THAT THIS SEEMS TO BE A PATTERN HAPPENING IN GAY BARS?

I'VE BEEN IN VERY FREQUENT COMMUNICATION WITH PD SINCE THE DEATH OF JULIO AND THEN JOHN.

THEY HAVE CONTINUALLY BEEN UPDATING ME.

THEY HAD SAID THAT THEY -- THIS HAS BEEN AT STRAIGHT BARS AND QUEER VENUES.

THE VICTIMS HAVE BEEN GAY.

THE VICTIMS HAVE BEEN STRAIGHT.

THIS GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS LOOSELY CONNECTED INDIVIDUALS, HAS BEEN INDISCRIMINATELY ROBBING PEOPLE, PRIMARILY LOOKING FOR MEN WHO ARE OUT BY THEMSELVES AND BEFRIENDING THEM IN NIGHT LIFE VENUES, PLYING THEM WITH DRUGS AND SOMETIMES AT A BAR, SOMETIMES GETTING THEM TO LEAVE WITH THEM.

THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, LIKE I SAID BEFORE, WE IN THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY ARE VERY, VERY WORRIED ABOUT THIS GIVEN THE CONTEXT OF THE ATTACKS AGAINST OUR COMMUNITY NATIONWIDE AND THE FACT THAT THESE HAVE TAKEN PLACE -- THESE TWO MURDERS HAPPENED IN HELL'S KITCHEN AT QUEER NIGHT LIFE VENUES.

WE ARE TRYING TO TELL PEOPLE TO BE VIGILANT.

WE ARE DEMANDING JUSTICE IN THE DEATHS OF JOHN AND JULIO.

LIAM, I WANT TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE INVESTIGATION.

THERE UNFORTUNATELY IS A HISTORY WITH THE NYPD OF NOT HAVING, LET'S SAY, THE BEST RELATIONSHIP WITH NEW YORK'S LGBTQ COMMUNITY.

DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THERE IS A -- IS THERE AN INTEREST -- I DON'T WANT TO SAY TAKING THE CASES SERIOUSLY, BUT TO GIVING THEM THE ATTENTION, PERHAPS, THAT THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE GOTTEN IN PREVIOUS YEARS?

I THINK NOW THE POLICE ARE TAKING IT VERY SERIOUSLY.

THERE'S A LOT OF RESOURCES BEING DEVOTED TO THIS, A LOT OF MEN ON THE JOB, A LOT OF EFFORT BEING REALLY DIRECTED TOWARDS THIS.

ONE THING WE FOUND IS THAT FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, WHEN MEN WOULD GO TO THE POLICE AND SAY THIS HAPPENED TO ME, I WAS AT A BAR, I DON'T REMEMBER HOW I LEFT, I WOKE UP.

ONE MAN WOKE UP ON THE FLOOR OF A HOTEL LOBBY.

ONE MAN I INTERVIEWED WOKE UP IN THE E.R. AFTER HE HAD BEEN LEFT FOR DEAD ON SIXTH AVENUE.

A PASSERBY CALLED.

HE WAS IN FULL -- GOING INTO OVERDOSE.

POLICE WOULD JUST NOT TAKE IT VERY SERIOUSLY.

THEY WOULD ASSUME THIS WAS JUST YOUR KIND OF -- I HATE TO SAY RUN OF THE MILL OVERDOSE.

THIS WAS SOMEONE WHO WENT OUT AND PARTIED TOO HARD AND LOST THEIR PHONE OR INJURED THEMSELF IN SOME WAY.

THEY DIDN'T SEE IT AS NECESSARILY EVIDENCE OF A CRIME OR A NEFARIOUS ACT.

IT WASN'T UNTIL THE FAMILIES OF SOME OF THE MEN -- THE RAMIREZ FAMILY, THE UMBERGER FAMILY CONNECTED THE DOTS AND SAW THERE WERE CASES, LARGE CHARGES ON THE CREDIT CARDS AFTER THE MEN WERE DEAD.

BANKING TRANSACTIONS MADE.

THEY CONNECTED THE DOTS AND ADVOCATED FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR LOVED ONES AND PROPELLED THIS FORWARD.

FIRST OF ALL, THE FACT THAT THERE ARE CHARGES BEING MADE AND BANK ACCOUNTS BEING DRAWN, WAS THERE NO WAY TO DETERMINE WHERE THOSE CHARGES WERE COMING FROM AND PERHAPS WHICH -- HOW THOSE WITHDRAWALS WERE BEING MADE?

THIS IS THE REASON EARLIER WHEN YOU ASKED IF THE CASE MIGHT GO COLD, I SAID I DON'T THINK SO.

THERE'S SO MUCH EVIDENCE.

THERE ARE -- THERE'S AN ENORMOUS NUMBER OF WIRE TRANSFERS HAPPENING IN THESE CASES.

I DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHY THE POLICE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO MORE DEFINITELY TRACK THESE GUYS DOWN BASED ON THE TRANSFERS.

ONE THEORY I HEARD IS IT MAY BE DIFFICULT TO THEN CONNECT THOSE WIRE CRIMES TO ADMINISTERING THE DRUGS OR KILLING PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE A LOT OF THE DRUGS THAT ARE USED, THESE SO-CALLED DATE RAPE DRUGS LEAVE QUICKLY.

IT'S HARD TO NECESSARILY FIND THEM ON A TOXICOLOGY REPORT OR IN AN AUTOPSY.

COUNCILMAN, GIVEN WHAT WE HAVE HEARD FROM LIAM, I'M WONDERING, DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THE NYPD ARE BEING AS VIGILANT AS THEY CAN?

IF THERE'S WIRE TRANSFERS, IF THERE'S CREDIT CARD CHARGES, I MEAN, SHOULDN'T THERE BE SOME SORT OF CLEAR IDENTIFIERS AS TO WHERE THESE THINGS ARE TAKING PLACE?

OR PERHAPS, IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE I'M MISSING?

I HAVE HAD MEETINGS WITH THE POLICE DEPARTMENT ABOUT THIS IN WHICH THEY HAD 15 TO 20 INVESTIGATORS IN THE MEETING.

THEY HAVE DEDICATED A GREAT DEAL OF RESOURCES TO THIS.

THEY ARE HESITANT TO PUBLICALLY REVEAL TOO MANY DETAILS OF THE CASE BEFORE THEY MAKE AN INDICTMENT.

THAT COULD, ACCORDING TO THEM, COMPROMISE THEIR INVESTIGATION, COMPROMISE PROSECUTION.

ONE THING THAT IS DIFFICULT IN CHARGING SOMEONE WITH MURDER, YOU HAVE TO PROVE A NUMBER OF THINGS.

YOU HAVE TO PROVE THAT THEY HAD ADMINISTERED DRUGS IN A WAY TO MURDER THAT PERSON.

THAT'S WHAT THEY DID WHEN THEY CHARGED THEM WITH MURDER ON DECEMBER 22nd.

THAT WAS NOT FOR THE DEATHS OF JULIO OR JOHN.

BUT WE ARE HOPING THAT THEY WILL SOON MAKE THESE CHARGES FOR THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS AND OTHERS, BECAUSE WE NEED TO BRING THESE PEOPLE TO JUSTICE AND SEND A MESSAGE TO EVERYONE OUT THERE THAT YOU CANNOT VICTIMIZE PEOPLE, AND YOU WILL BE CHARGED WITH MURDER.

SPEAKING OF KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE, THE OTHER QUESTION THAT COMES TO MIND IS, ISN'T THE CITY EQUIPPED WITH AT LEAST A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF CAMERAS?

THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER CRIMES WHERE CAMERA FOOTAGE IS RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC WHERE IF YOU KNOW OR RECOGNIZE THIS PERSON, CAN YOU HELP, CALL CRIME STOPPERS, ET CETERA?

IS THERE ANYTHING LIKE THAT AVAILABLE TO HELP WITH SOLVING THE CRIMES?

I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT THEY HAVE USED CAMERA FOOTAGE.

THEY HAVE USED SUBWAY FOOTAGE, METRO CARD USAGE.

THEY HAVE USED CELLPHONE DATA.

THEY HAVE BROUGHT IN FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS.

THEY HAVE FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL POLICE INVOLVED IN PROSECUTING THESE USING A WIDE VARIETY OF METHODS.

ONE THING I -- JUMPING IN, ONE THING THAT'S INTERESTING, I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN HEAR WHAT THEY WOULD SAY THE MURDER WEAPON WAS IN THESE CASES.

WOULD IT BE COCAINE?

WOULD IT BE -- AS I SAID, A LOT OF THESE DRUGS THAT ARE USED TO INCAPACITATE SOMEONE LEAVE YOUR SYSTEM SO QUICKLY.

THEY MAY NOT KNOW IF THE GHP WAS IN THEIR BODY.

THAT'S UNKNOWABLE.

THAT'S ONE THING I THINK MUST BE DIFFICULT FOR THEM RIGHT NOW.

IT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO SEE HOW THEY KIND OF FIGURE THAT OUT.

DO WE KNOW IF FOR THE TWO CASES THAT WE MENTIONED THAT THERE WAS A CLEAR CAUSE OF DEATH ON THE DEATH CERTIFICATE?

MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THEY WERE CLASSIFIED AS DRUG OVERDOSES.

I'M NOT SURE WHAT THAT SPECIFICALLY MEANS.

JOHN HAD COCAINE AND LIDOCAINE AND FENTANYL IN HIS SYSTEM.

I GUESS IT WAS FENTANYL IN THAT CASE THAT WAS MOST LIKELY THE WEAPON IN THAT CASE.

IT IS AN ADDED COMPLICATION, AS I'VE BEEN TOLD, WHEN DEATH CERTIFICATE DOES NOT SAY CAUSE OF DEATH HOMICIDE, AS IT OFTEN DOES WHEN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN -- BY THE MEDICAL EXAMINER, WHEN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MURDERED, THAT CERTIFICATE WILL SAY THAT THEY HAVE DETERMINED IT WAS HOMICIDE.

IN THESE INSTANCES, IT DOESN'T SAY THAT BECAUSE THEY CAN'T SAY THAT AT THAT TIME.

THEY HAVE TO GO BUILD A CASE AFTER THE FACT THAT IT WAS HOMICIDE IN ORDER TO MAKE THOSE CHARGES.

OKAY.

ALSO, COUNCILMAN, YOU MENTIONED WHEN I ASKED YOU ABOUT WHY THIS WOULD BE A THREAT TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY, BUT I JUST WANT TO GET A LITTLE BIT ALSO INTO YOUR PERSONAL STORY.

AS I MENTIONED IN THE LEAD, THERE HAVE BEEN A GROWING NUMBER OF INSTANCES OF BIASED CRIMES HAPPENING IN NEW YORK.

I KNOW YOU HAVE A VERY PERSONAL STORY OF BEING ATTACKED OR AT LEAST PROTESTED, I SHOULD SAY, YOURSELF.

CAN YOU SHARE THAT WITH US?

RIGHT HERE IN CHELSEA WHERE I LIVE, THERE WAS A -- THERE WAS AN INCIDENT OUTSIDE OF A DRAG STORY HOUR IN CHELSEA.

THIS PROGRAM THAT FOLKS MAY HAVE HEARD OF.

IT'S JUST STORY TIME WITH KIDS.

THEY BRING IN A DRAG ARTIST.

FAMILIES WILL BRING THEIR KID TO THE LIBRARY, BRING THEIR CHILDREN TO THE LIBRARY.

I ATTENDED ONE OF THESE, JUST LIKE I DO WITH OTHER CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS THAT WE SUPPORT.

THERE WERE DOZENS OF PROTESTERS OUTSIDE WITH THE MOST VICIOUS, HORRIFIC SIGNS ACCUSING US OF BEING CHILD PREDATORS AND GROOMERS, AS THEY SAY, AND OTHER VILE TAUNTS.

THEY WERE HARASSING THE FAMILIES AND EVERYONE WHO WAS GOING IN AND OUT.

APPARENTLY, THIS IS A GROUP THAT'S BEEN DOING IT ALL OVER THE CITY, JUST AS THEY HAVE BEEN ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.

I FILMED THEM AND POSTED IT ONLINE FOR THE WORLD TO SEE.

PEOPLE WERE REALLY HORRIFIED ABOUT WHAT THEY WERE DOING TO THESE FAMILIES RIGHT HERE IN CHELSEA.

THESE FOLKS DIDN'T LIKE THAT VERY MUCH, THAT I DID THAT.

THEY CAME TO MY OFFICE A COUPLE -- AFTER LEAVING THREATENING VOICEMAILS ON MY PERSONAL CELLPHONE, THEY CAME TO MY DISTRICT OFFICE, ATTEMPTED TO GAIN ENTRY.

OUR STAFF WAS BARRICADED IN THE OFFICE.

THEY WERE BANG ON THE DOOR, JUST TAUNTING, SAYING HORRIBLE THINGS, CHILD MOLESTER, CHILD PREDATOR, HORRIBLE STUFF.

WHEN THEY COULDN'T GET IN, THEY LEFT AND THEY VANDALIZED THE HALLWAY OUTSIDE MY OFFICE.

THAT EVENING, THEY CAME TO MY APARTMENT BUILDING AND WERE ABLE TO GAIN ENTRY TO THE LOBBY.

TWO OF THEM WERE ARRESTED FOR CRIMINAL TRESPASSING.

A THIRD WAS ARRESTED FOR ASSAULTING MY NEIGHBOR.

THEY WROTE ALL OVER THE SIDEWALK VILE WORDS.

THIS SHOCKED NEW YORK.

WE SOMETIMES THINK THAT WE ARE IN THIS PROTECTED BUBBLE AGAINST THE KIND OF HATE WE SEE AROUND THE COUNTRY.

IT'S REALLY NOT -- IT EXISTS HERE.

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN OVERWHELMING, PEOPLE REJECTING THIS HATRED.

ALSO IN ADDITION TO THE RESPONSE, DO WE KNOW THAT THE INDIVIDUALS AT LEAST WHO WERE ARRESTED WERE NEW YORKERS?

OR DID THEY COME IN FROM OUTSIDE THE CITY?

THEY WERE NEW YORKERS.

THEY LIVED RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT'S IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING THIS ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN PROTESTING THE VACCINE.

THEY WENT TO THE HEALTH COMMISSIONER'S HOME.

THERE WAS AN ORDER OF PROTECTION PUT OUT AGAINST SOME OF THEM.

THEY DEFACED THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MURAL.

ONE OF THEM WAS ARRESTED FOR DOING THAT.

THIS IS JUST THE LATEST CAUSE THAT THEY HAVE LATCHED ON TO.

IT'S THIS RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY THEORY UNIVERSE THAT THEY LIVE IN WHERE THEY ARE TAKING THEIR DIRECTION FROM TWITTER.

THEY ARE GOING OUT THERE AND THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE INTERNET AND RIGHT WING POLITICIANS REALLY CAUSING THIS -- THESE THINGS THAT ARE MANIFESTING THEMSELVES IN THE REAL WORLD IN DANGEROUS WAYS.

LIAM, I WANT TO GO BACK TO YOU.

JUST BASED ON WHAT THE COUNCILMAN WAS SAYING, WHAT CAN WE, I GUESS, EXTRAPOLATE ABOUT WHAT SEEMS TO BE GOING ON?

I REALIZE THIS MIGHT NOT BE YOUR BEAT.

WHAT MIGHT BE GOING ON IN THE ONLINE SPHERE, IF YOU WILL, THE RIGHT WING ONLINE SPHERE, THAT IS JUST GETTING SO MANY PEOPLE RILED UP ENOUGH TO GO OUT AND START ATTEMPTING TO PHYSICALLY HARASS IF NOT PHYSICALLY ASSAULT INDIVIDUALS THEY DISAGREE WITH?

THE INTERNET IN GENERAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN PARTICULAR IS A FANTASTIC MACHINE FOR RADICALIZATION.

A LOT OF THESE FOLKS ARE STEEPED IN THESE ONLINE FAR RIGHT INFORMATION ECOSYSTEMS.

WHETHER THAT IS PEOPLE THEY FOLLOW ON TWITTER.

WHETHER THAT'S FOX NEWS, PODCASTERS.

I THINK SOME OF THESE GUYS, THEY REALLY -- THEY ARE TRUE BELIEVERS.

THEY BELIEVE THE THINGS THEY ARE SAYING.

EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO CONNECTION TO REALITY.

SO THEN, I GUESS IT'S AN AWKWARD QUESTION.

BUT IS THERE -- WHERE DO YOU SEE THE LINE BETWEEN FREE SPEECH AND EXPRESSING YOUR DISAGREEMENT WITH SOMETHING AND SOMETHING THAT BECOMES OVER THE LINE AND NOW BECOMES ASSAULT THAT NEEDS TO BE HANDLED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT?

COUNCILMAN, GIVEN YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, I WILL START WITH YOU.

THE GOOD NEWS IS IT'S WELL DEFINED BY LAW.

YOU ARE TOTALLY WITHIN YOUR RIGHTS TO PROTEST.

EVEN THOUGH I MIGHT NOT AGREE WITH IT, YOU CAN GO TO SOMEONE'S APARTMENT BUILDING.

YOU CAN'T ENTER CRIMINALLY AND REFUSE TO LEAVE LIKE THEY DID WITH MY BUILDING.

YOU COULD GO TO SOMEONE'S OFFICE.

BUT YOU CAN'T VANDALIZE THE HALLWAY.

YOU CAN'T PUT YOUR HANDS ON PEOPLE AND SLAP THEM AND SHOVE THEM LIKE HAPPENED IN THIS INSTANCE.

FIRST AMENDMENT, YES.

BUT THERE'S A LINE THAT WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE IS RESPECTED.

THAT'S WHY I'M THANKFUL THAT IN THIS INSTANCE, THE AUTHORITIES ACTED.

I'M HOPING THIS WILL BE MADE CLEAR TO EVERYONE GOING FORWARD.

ONE MORE QUESTION.

HOW CRITICAL IS IT THAT MORE PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING THIS BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE OR AT LEAST CHARGED WITH A CRIME GIVEN THE FACT THAT STILL A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK THAT I CAN?

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO ENFORCE THE RULES AND MAKE SURE THAT THESE RIGHT WING GROUPS -- THAT WE CAN'T LET THEM SUCCEED AT INTIMIDATING AND HARASSING AND ASSAULTING WITH IMPUNITY.

THAT'S WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT THAT NEW YORK CITY TAKE A STAND AND MAKE IT CLEAR THAT WE'RE NOT GOING TO STAND FOR THAT.

OF COURSE, LIAM, I WANT TO GO BACK TO, LIKE I SAID, THE CASES I MENTIONED EARLIER, AND THAT WE -- IT'S NOT CLEAR -- THE NYPD IS NOT SAYING THAT THIS WAS THE RESULT OF RIGHT WING ACTION.

BUT IS THERE ANYTHING THAT AT LEAST HAS BEEN GIVEN AS WARNINGS OR SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE MORE AWARE OF?

DO YOU MEAN THE INCIDENTS OF THE DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR?

THE TWO MURDERS YOU WERE SPEAKING OF EARLIER.

OH.

THERE'S NO INDICATION THAT THOSE ARE CONNECTED TO RIGHT WING POLITICS AT ALL OR RIGHT WING ACTORS.

I THINK AS THE COUNCILMAN SAID EARLIER, YOU KNOW, THERE ARE BASIC THINGS.

WATCH YOUR DRINK.

IF YOU ARE OUT BY YOURSELF, YOU HAVE TO BE EXTRA VIGILANT.

IF YOU ARE OUT BY FRIENDS, DON'T LEAVE YOUR FRIENDS ALONE.

COME AS A GROUP.

LEAVE AS A GROUP.

ONE THING THAT'S BEEN INTERESTING ABOUT THIS PHENOMENA IS THAT THESE ARE VERY BASIC RULES THAT I THINK A LOT OF WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES KNOW FROM A VERY EARLY AGE.

I THINK WE'RE TALKING ABOUT GAY MEN.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO ARE SOCIALIZED AS MEN IN THIS COUNTRY AND WHO DON'T NECESSARILY THINK OF THEMSELVES AS PEOPLE WHO COULD BE ATTACKED AT A BAR.

I THINK THESE TIPS, THEY SOUND BASIC.

I THINK A LOT OF YOUR VIEWERS PROBABLY THINK, OBVIOUSLY, WATCH YOUR DRINK.

SOME PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY MEN, THEY JUST DON'T -- THEY ARE NEVER TOLD THAT.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY, SUE AND EDGAR WALKENHEIM III, BERNARD AND DENISE SWARTZ

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