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Staten Island Pride Center is target of hate-filled letters

2019-09-18

A Staten Island man has been charged with a hate crime for sending threatening letters to a local gay rights group and leaving a package of racist letters and news clippings on a neighbor’s front lawn.

Brian Jones, 48, was arrested and charged with harassment and harassment as a hate crime for a series of letters, including one that said gay men “deserve to be castrated with a pair of rusty grass shears,” prosecutors said.

When investigators confronted him last week, he allegedly confessed to the crime, officials said.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s me. It’s my handwriting,” he said, according to a criminal complaint.

Jones also allegedly targeted a West Brighton neighbor because a political lawn sign set him off, law enforcement sources said.

Investigators with the Staten Island district attorney’s office arrested Jones Sept. 12. He was arraigned the next day and released on his own recognizance.

Carol Bullock, executive director of The Pride Center of Staten Island, said the first poison pen message arrived May 31, and was followed by several equally offensive letters.

“We received some letters that were very homophobic and discriminatory and anti-LGBTQ,” Bullock said. “As it escalated, it became a little more personal toward me.“

Bullock said the first of the letters came after the Pride Center called for a boycott of the Staten Island Yankees over its affiliation with Chick-fil-A, which has reportedly made donations to anti-LBGTQ groups.

After the team ended its partnership with the chicken chain, the ball club hosted a pride night in August at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark.

Bullock said the letters were frightening, but that she won’t be swayed from her mission.

“I have an order of protection,” Bullock said. “It’s scary. It doesn’t deter me from fighting for equality.”