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NYC LGBTQ historic sites project receives ‘excellence’ award

Virtual ceremony took place on Friday

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The Stonewall Inn during New York City Pride (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The National Trust for Historic Development has chosen the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project as the recipient of its Trustees Award for Organization Excellence.

The LGBT Historic Sites Project is one of nine historic preservation-related organizations that were recognized with awards at a Nov. 4 virtual ceremony that was available to the public.

“The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a nationally recognized and influential cultural heritage initiative and educational resource that identifies and documents diverse extant LGBT sites from the 17th century to 2000,” the announcement says.

“The only permanent organization of its kind in the U.S., the project staff have created an interactive website, National Register nominations, publicans and programs and school educational materials, among other resources,” the announcement continues.

‘Sitting at the intersection of historic preservation and social justice, the organization has been particularly eager to document LGBT sites associated with women and Black, Asian, Latinx, trans and gender-variant communities,” according to the announcement. “In the near future, they hope to prioritize local sites of LGBT history associated with Indigenous and Two-Spirit peoples,” it says. 

In its announcement, the National Trust for Historic Preservation says its National Preservation Awards ceremony is held each year during its annual PastForward Conference, which was held virtually on Nov. 4.

“Each year at the PastForward Conference we come together to recognize those making a real difference in historic preservation,” said Paul Edmondson, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This year’s recipients embody not just the preservation of American History, but also demonstrate how preserving historic places can play a key role in addressing critical issues of today, including climate change, equality and housing,” Edmondson said. 

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New York

Final suspect in NYC gay bar druggings and robberies arrested

Jayqwan Hamilton, 35, taken into custody on Monday

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The NYPD has arrested the final suspect in a series of druggings and robberies at gay bars in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

At a press conference on Tuesday, New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and NYPD Chief of Detectives James W. Essig, announced that NYPD detectives had arrested the remaining suspect in a series of drugging’s and bar robberies.

The string of drug-facilitated robberies of men who visited gay bars in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood had resulted in two deaths, and had the city’s LGBTQ community on edge for months.

Sewell thanked NYPD detectives and department personnel along with the Bragg’s office for their assistance in investigation that ran 11 months from Sept. 19, 2021, to Aug. 28, 2022. Essig recounted that his detectives worked on solving the string of 17 similar incidents noting that the victims were offered drugs or marijuana that had been laced, after which the suspects were able to gain access to the victim’s phones and then transfer money from them into accounts under the control of the perpetrators.

Essig then noted that there were two overdose cases resulting in the deaths of 33-year-old D.C. resident and political consultant, John Umberger, who died on May 26, 2022, and Julio Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker who died on April 21, 2022.

John Umberger (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

The New York City Medical Examiner ruled that both deaths were homicides on March 23, 2023 and caused by a “drug-facilitated theft.” Multiple drugs were found in both men’s systems, including fentanyl, lidocaine and cocaine.

Julio Ramirez, left with his parents and brother. (Family photo)

Robert Demaio, 34, was indicted on murder and robbery charges last month, surrendered to police at the NYPD’s 5th Precinct in Chinatown two weeks ago. Another alleged robbery crew member, 30-year-old Jacob Barroso, turned himself in.

Today’s arrest announcement regarded Jayqwan Hamilton, 35, who was arrested on Monday and is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, grand larceny and identity theft.

The arrests of all three men, plus two more allegedly connected to the 17 cases, has given New York’s Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ community some relief although bars and restaurant owners have told various media outlets in the city that their wait staffs and bar personnel remain vigilant.

Jacob Barroso (left), Jayqwan Hamilton (center) and Robert Demaio
(Photo courtesy of NYPD)

“This investigation took a long time, but I think the results speak for themselves, that everything was done to make sure we held those accountable who committed these crimes,” Sewell told reporters.

“The defendants had no regard for whether victims ever recovered from being drugged,” Bragg added. “Their motive, we allege, was simple — to make money. The defendants use these substances as weapons to incapacitate their victims, giving them an opportunity steal their phones and credit cards.”

Essig told reporters that once the victims were “incapacitated to the extent that their ability to perceive events became diminished,” according to an indictment, the five co-conspirators would then steal their victims’ cell phones and credit cards and use the physical cards and information stored on the victims’ phones to transfer money to themselves and make purchases. 

Regarding the resulting trail of evidence against the suspects, Essig noted; “Among the results returned were two videos depicting Hamilton and DeMayo in the victim’s apartment. In another, the victim is seen on the bed, apparently unconscious, in the same pose as he was later found deceased.”

Hamilton, who was arraigned Tuesday, is due back in court on June 8.

Watch as Sewell, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Bragg provide a case update:

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New York

NYPD announces two arrests in gay bar robberies and drugging deaths

John Umberger, a D.C. political consultant, died after visiting Manhattan bar

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The New York Police Department has made several arrests in connection with a series of robberies and drugging-related deaths at gay bars in Manhattan. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The New York City Police Department announced that detectives have made arrests in a string of drug-facilitated robberies of men who visited LGBTQ bars in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood that resulted in two deaths.

Robert Demaio, 34, was charged with murder, robbery, grand larceny, identity theft and conspiracy in connection with the death of a 33-year-old D.C. resident and political consultant, John Umberger, and in a separate incident in which an unidentified victim did not die, the NYPD told NBC News.

John Umberger (Facebook)

Last month the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Umberger’s death and the death of another man, Julio Ramirez, a gay 25-year-old social worker who died in the back of a taxi cab a year ago also after visiting a popular, multilevel gay venue in the heart of the Hell’s Kitchen, homicides caused by a “drug-facilitated theft.”

Multiple drugs were found in both men’s systems, including fentanyl, lidocaine and cocaine.

Julio Ramirez, left with his parents and brother. (Family photo)

NYPD spokesperson told media outlets that detectives are searching for another suspect in the drug-induced slayings, Jayqwan Hamilton, 35.

The New York Post reported that Demaio, who was indicted on murder and robbery charges last month, surrendered to police at the NYPD’s 5th Precinct in Chinatown Monday, two days after another alleged robbery crew member, 30-year-old Jacob Barroso, turned himself in.

Jacob Barroso (left), Jayqwan Hamilton (center) and Robert Demaio (Photo credit: NYPD)

NBC News said that according to law enforcement sources, last week a Manhattan grand jury indicted several suspects in connection with the deaths of Umberger and Ramirez.

Once the victims were “incapacitated to the extent that their ability to perceive events became diminished,” according to an indictment, the five co-conspirators would then steal their victims’ cell phones and credit cards and use the physical cards and information stored on the victims’ phones to transfer money to themselves and make purchases. 

Officials also told NBC News that the five suspects were targeting victims for financial gain and not because of their sexual orientation. However, they added that the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is assisting in the investigation.

Man arrested on murder charge in NYC gay bar drugging scheme:

Second arrest made in fatal NYC gay bar robberies:

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Woman charged with hate crime in connection with NYC Pride flag fire

Angelina Cando arrested on Tuesday

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New York City Fire Department (NYFD) units responded to fire at The Little Prince restaurant (Instagram)

The woman caught on a restaurant’s security video surveillance system early Monday morning intentionally setting ablaze its LGBTQ Pride flag has been arrested and charged.

Angelina Cando, 30, was arrested Tuesday on charges of arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, all with hate crimes enhancements a spokesperson for the New York Police Department said Wednesday.

A local building superintendent who knew the suspect told the Daily News she had a history of homophobic run-ins. Love Texidor, the superintendent in a building on Mott Street, a half-mile from the restaurant where the arson occurred, added that Cando lived there with an apparent boyfriend. “She wasn’t a tenant, just the crazy girlfriend of a tenant,” Texidor said.

In a video tweeted by openly gay New York City Councilman Erik Bottcher, (D-District 3) and also released by the New York Police Department a raven/red haired female is seen getting out of the passenger side of a white SUV. The suspect then lit the flag on fire, then got back into the SUV. The SUV driver then sped away, heading west on Prince Street toward MacDougal Street, according to a NYPD press release.

New York City Fire Department units responded to fire at the Little Prince restaurant on Prince Street near MacDougal Street and extinguished the fire, which damaged the exterior of the building. According to the NYPD the establishment was closed, but an employee told investigators that one worker was still inside cleaning at the time and saw a woman get out of a car and set the flag on fire. NYFD also evacuated residents of the building with no injuries reported and there was not structural damage.

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