Volume 74, Number 17 | August 25 - 31 , 2004

Gay and transgender youth slam West Side crackdown

By Albert Amateau

FIERCE!, the group that advocates for gay, lesbian and transgender youth who frequent the West Village, insists it was unfairly excluded from the Aug. 9 Greenwich Village Block Associations’ mayoral forum and is determined to make its voice heard, according to Ricky Mananzala, a FIERCE! staff member.

This week, FIERCE!’s plan to speak up at a 6th Precinct Community Council meeting on Aug. 25 misfired because the council does not meet in August.

So the group [Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment] has set its sights on the September full Community Board 2 meeting, Mananzala said.

“We want to take on issues like Operation West Side’s effect on our members, eliminating or extending the Hudson River Park 1 a.m. curfew and getting a drop-in center for queer and trans youth in the West Village on Christopher St. or as close to the piers as possible,” she said.

Operation West Side is the new 6th Precinct enforcement effort against prostitution. “They’ve been targeting transgender youth of color whether they’re sex workers or not,” said Mananzala, adding that transgender persons turn to “sex work” because they are excluded from other employment.

She also complained that the Christopher St. Patrol, a neighborhood group that has been patrolling the street for several years, harasses transgender people.

Nevertheless, residents and merchants have long complained about transgender prostitutes fighting with each other and others who are part of the scene and servicing johns on the street and harassing residents and passersby.

The fatal stabbing on W. 10th St. between Hudson and Greenwich Sts. on July 16 cast a spotlight on violence in the transgender world. Christian Soto-Ruiz, 19, of the Bronx, was charged with stabbing two victims, one of them fatally, in a dispute involving a group of transgender youth during the early morning hours. Darryl Fearon, 17, of 225 Marble Hill, the Bronx, who came to the aid of the youths, died of a stab wound to the heart on arrival at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

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