Unfolding amidst the vibrant backdrop of Times Square, the recent arrest of Gregory Kutzin, a 33-year-old resident of Tribeca, has cast a sombre light on a disconcerting incident. Charged with a hate crime assault against a young Yemeni woman within the confines of a Times Square subway car, this event has prompted crucial conversations regarding the surge in hate crimes and the pressing call for increased awareness and proactive measures.
The altercation began on an uptown 2 train on November 17 around 6:15 p.m. Kutzin and a 23-year-old woman engaged in a heated argument, during which Kutzin verbally attacked the woman, referring to her as a “terrorist.” The situation escalated when he physically assaulted her, hitting her in the chest and forcibly ripping a Palestinian flag from her hands.
In a disturbing video captured by the victim, Kutzin is seen holding the Palestinian flag, while the woman pleads for someone to call the police. The incident continued even after they left the train, with Kutzin further disrespecting the victim’s beliefs by breaking and tossing the flag onto the train tracks.
Initially charged with six hate crime charges, along with other offences including assault, robbery, criminal mischief, and harassment, Kutzin faced severe legal consequences. However, prosecutors ultimately filed four felony charges against him: robbery as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime, criminal mischief as a hate crime, and aggravated assault.
Despite the gravity of the charges, Kutzin was released on his own recognizance after his arraignment on November 21. The legal proceedings are set to continue, with Kutzin due back in court on January 9, 2024.
Public Outcry and Mayor’s Response
The incident prompted a strong response from the community and city officials. Mayor Adams took to social media, expressing his deep concern. He underscored the fundamental right of every New Yorker to express themselves freely, without the looming fear of bigotry or violence. The Mayor strongly condemned the attack, affirming the victim’s right to carry a Palestinian flag and navigate the subways without facing any form of harassment.
StoneX group, the employer of Kutzin, did acknowledge the incident through their social media channels. However, when approached by various media outlets for further details, the company opted not to provide a comment. This decision has led many to ponder the role that corporations play in handling and proactively preventing situations involving their employees.
Victim’s Struggle for Justice
During an interview with NBC News, the victim shared a disheartening experience wherein the police initially dismissed her account. Expressing concerns about the pivotal role video evidence played in securing Kutzin’s arrest, she posed thought-provoking questions: “What if I didn’t have a video? What if it didn’t go viral? He would have never even got arrested.” This incident serves as a stark reminder of the formidable obstacles faced by victims of hate crimes when seeking justice and protection.
The aftermath of the incident has deeply affected the victim, leaving her emotionally shaken and prompting a reassessment of her sense of safety in New York City. During the NBC interview, she openly shared her surprise at becoming the target of a violent attack solely based on her specific beliefs. This brings forth legitimate concerns regarding the vulnerability of individuals who may find themselves targeted for their beliefs or identity.