Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

4 plead guilty in East Village gay bias attack on singer

Associated Press Writer

March 21, 2007, 6:57 PM EDT

NEW YORK -- Four people who were accused of brutally assaulting a nightclub singer and recording artist in the East Village while yelling anti-gay slurs at him pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges related to the attack.

The four _ Akino George, Gregory Archie, Jarell Sears and Gerard Johnson _ admitted that last summer they chased, jumped and beat Kevin Aviance.

The four began following Aviance around 1:30 a.m. on June 10, 2006, calling him derogatory names, police said. They threw two garbage bags and a paint can at the singer before attacking him, police said.

The defendants punched and kicked Aviance, 39, in the face and body, breaking his jaw, bruising his knee and causing other injuries, police said. Passers-by yelled for the attack to stop, and when it was over a man walked Aviance to a hospital.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg denounced the attack as "a disgrace."

The four entered their pleas before state Supreme Court Justice James Yates.

Johnson, 17, of Manhattan, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault as a hate crime in exchange for a sentence of 15 years in prison and five years of post-release supervision. He will be sentenced April 13.

George, 21, of the Bronx, and Sears, 21, of Newark, N.J., pleaded guilty to first-degree gang assault and will receive prison terms of eight years with five years of post-release supervision. They will be sentenced April 6.

Archie, 19, of Manhattan, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault as a hate crime and was promised a sentence of six years in prison with three years of post-release supervision. He will be sentenced May 10.

All the defendants faced up to 25 years in prison if they had been convicted of the top count, first-degree assault as a hate crime. Designating an offense a hate crime increases the sentence the judge is allowed to impose.

Aviance, who performs in drag, made a triumphant public reappearance just a few weeks after the attack. In the New York City Gay Pride Parade, he rolled down Fifth Avenue atop a fake elephant and a circus-themed float.

Wearing a top hat and little else other than a jacket, jewels and red stilettos, Aviance waved to the crowds.

Aviance appeared on the Billboard dance music charts in 2002 and 2004 with his songs "Give It Up" and "Alive."

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.