Two men were violently attacked at a bodega in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn on September 4 after suspects apparently assumed they were a gay couple.
Abimbola Adelaja, 36, also known as “Abe,” and a 28-year-old man were buying chopped cheese sandwiches from a bodega at 1559 Broadway at approximately 2 a.m. when two individuals allegedly approached them. One of the suspects then allegedly said, “I know you’re not coming out here. I don’t f*** with f****ts.”
Moments later, the incident turned physical when the attackers allegedly hit the victims with a glass bottle and a screwdriver. Police said the suspects stole iPhones and cash from the victims.
During the attack, Adelaja said he was stabbed multiple times in his lungs. According to the NYPD, Adelaja sustained a puncture wound to his chin and a cut on his lips, while the 28-year-old man experienced slashing to his right hand, shoulder and was stabbed seven times. Both victims were taken to the hospital and are in stable condition.
On September 8, the NYPD announced that 31-year-old Jonathan Carter of Brooklyn was arrested in response to the case and was charged with attempted murder in the second degree and several hate crime-related charges, including robbery, assault with a weapon, aggravated harassment, harassment, and menacing.
“I was fighting for my life,” Adelaja, an out LGBTQ former marine, told Gay City News in a phone call from a local hospital. “I can’t tell how many people were fighting with me at this point. I was also trying to keep an eye out for my friend, telling him to run and telling him to call the cops.”
As Adelaja defended himself from the attackers, he ran to the back of the store and asked, “Why are you guys doing this?”
“I don’t f**k with f***ts. I’m going to kill you guys,” the suspect allegedly told the victims. “I don’t f**k with that gay s**t.”
That’s when Adelaja’s friend, who is straight, shouted, “I’m not gay! I’m not gay!”At this point, Adelaja said he hid in a storage closet to avoid the attackers, but when the victims tried to seek help from the bodega’s staff, they were kicked out.
“They want to kill me. How could you kick me out?” Adelaja asked the bodega’s employees. “How could y’all kick me out? You guys know me? please help me out.”
Adelaja said he wants the bodega to be held responsible for neglecting to respond to the attack.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “There was a total disregard for my life…they wouldn’t even let me use the phone.”
When Adelaja finally escaped, he flagged down an ambulance and was transported to a nearby hospital.
In the wake of the attack, LGBTQ advocates are organizing a march on September 8 to denounce a wave of anti-LGBTQ crimes in the neighborhood. The rally will commence at the bodega at 1559 Broadway and conclude at Central Avenue Station in Bushwick. Gia Love, who is friends with Adelaja and is the lead organizer of the march, condemned the attackers and stands in solidarity with the survivors.
“I’m pretty sure him fighting for his life is the reason why he is still with us today,” Love told Gay City News. “His strength is the reason why we’re mobilizing as well…we want to let people know that we’re not weak, we will not stand for violence against us, and we will continue to live and exist within our communities.”
The incident marked the latest in a string of anti-LGBTQ attacks in the area. Last month, a man allegedly assaulted and hurled anti-LGBTQ slurs at an individual on the J train in Brooklyn. In July, a Black trans femme non-binary individual and multiple LGBTQ people were injured in a violent rampage allegedly targeting queer people at a string of bars in the area.
“These business owners are profiting off of our residency in this area, and they don’t protect us,” Love said. “They will literally leave us out for dead.”
She continued, “Not only this store, but a lot of the clubs and bars that we frequent are complicit in the violence that we’re facing. They hire homophobic security, they allow homophobic [people] to come into their establishments, and they often attack Black and Brown LGBTQ folks.”
Samy Nemir-Olivares, an out queer district leader in Assembly District 53, which includes Williamsburg and Bushwick, said authorities must prioritize the safety of LGBTQ individuals in the area.
“This is a stark reminder that there is a lot of work to do to eradicate homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny,” Nemir-Olivares told Gay City News. “There is a vibrant and large queer community in Bushwick, so it’s really worrisome…it could have been any of us.”
Days after the incident, Adelaja is still reeling from the attack.
“If I weren’t 220 pounds and 6-foot-2 [inches] with military training, I would be dead,” he said. “To think we have to look over our shoulders in 2021 simply because we are gay is disappointing. But we are a resilient group of people, we’ve always been and we will not live in fear.”
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