Interracial Couple Attacked in Long Island City Hate Crime

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Billie and Jacob James-Vogel.

New York's depressing new hate-crime trend continued early Saturday morning as an interracial couple was attacked outside a Long Island City bar. NBC New York reports that Billie (who is black) and Jacob (who is white) James-Vogel and a gay friend were leaving Billie's 40th-birthday celebration at a place called Shi around 1:30 a.m. when three men in a nearby car started shouting racist and homophobic slurs at them. Jacob told NBC that when he asked the men why they were yelling, they pushed him to the ground and punched him repeatedly. "And while I was laying on the ground covering my face, I got to watch them shove my wife to the ground without being able to help her," said Jacob, who ended up with a black eye and an injured head. Billie was left with bruises and broken toes. "When I think about the slurs, the N-word and the F-word, it hurts ... It breaks my heart," she said.

The incident became even more awful after the attack, when the James-Vogels returned to the restaurant they'd just left to ask for help. "My husband — his face was pouring with blood — went to that very same doorman and said, 'Please help us,' and he closed the door in my husband's face," Billie said. (The restaurant's owner claims that he thought the police had already been called and that he didn't want to let anyone in "out of fear for his customers.")

The couple told NY1 that after the cops left the scene, one of their assailants bizarrely and terrifyingly returned and pretended to be a police officer while they waited in an ambulance. "The EMT drivers didn't let him into the ambulance," Jacob said. "They then followed him and called the police." Twenty-eight-year-old Nikolaos Katsos was arrested and charged with assault and harassment, though those charges "could be upgraded." The other guys are still out there.