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March in Greenwich Village supports gays

D. Marcelino of the Bronx, standing with Iliana

D. Marcelino of the Bronx, standing with Iliana Arroyo of the Bronx, lights a candle for Mark Carson at a memorial where he was shot during a hate crime attack last week. (May 20, 2013) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Thousands of New Yorkers, elected officials and gay-rights activists hit the streets of Greenwich Village Monday evening in a show of support for a community coping with a recent spate of hate crimes.

Protesters marched from the headquarters of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center on West 13th Street to the corner of West 8th Street and 6th Avenue where Marc Carson, 32, of Harlem, was gunned down on Saturday morning.

Carson's death was the fifth high-profile hate attack against gays in Manhattan in a month and activists said they have had enough.

"Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia's got to go," they chanted as they marched.

The rally was organized by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and several gay-rights groups.

Around midnight Saturday, police say Elliot Morales, 33, approached Carson and used homophobic slurs against him and his partner, then shot him point-blank in the face. A nearby patrolman found Morales a few blocks away, and arrested him a short time later.

Carson's aunt, Flourine Bompars, thanked the crowd for their support as they dealt with the tragedy and urged them to keep fighting for tolerance.

"The family wants justice served so that Marc's death is not in vain," she said.

So far this year, there have been 24 reported hate crimes, 10 more than during the same time last year, the NYPD said. Aside from Carson's death, there were four other hate crimes against homosexuals in May.

Glennda Testone, executive director of the LGBT Center, said organizers hoped to pressure governments around the world to create laws that would protect gays from further harassment.

"No community, not even Greenwich Village is immune to violence," she said.

Quinn, who is openly gay and who marched with her mayoral Democratic rivals Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio, Sal Albanese and John Liu, said the city is already taking steps to prevent more hate crimes.

In addition to starting an anti-hate initiative in public schools, she said the NYPD would have an increased presence in the West Village and Chelsea from now until the end of June.

"I don't know why we've taken a step backward, but that's the case. So we will push forward," she said at an earlier news conference.

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