By Alan Silverstein
On Sunday June 27, the hundreds of imaginatively dressed gay pride marchers found their way to Washington Square Park. As the senior civilian community partner of the New York Police Department, I discovered myself on the north side of the park when I heard the aggressive screams of a woman shouting at one of the attendants of the food cart facing the Washington Square Arch. She kept screaming “you owe us an apology” and was soon joined by a growing chorus of Pride marchers voicing the same demand. Suddenly, the young marchers heaved milk crates at the three men (who I later discovered to be Egyptian-born food cart attendants).
Suddenly the crowd exploded into a mob of 40 to 50 marchers who were delighted to support the protest with a hail of cans and bottles. A marcher broke off an American flag attached to the stand and attempted to replace it with a parade banner. As the aging attendant reached to retrieve the flag, he was struck from behind and staggered into a mob of swinging marchers who punched him as he fell back unconscious onto the street. I rushed forward and discovered him bleeding profusely from his mouth, nose and head.
As I discovered and treated his many bleeding cuts, I became anxious for his life and was relieved when we were able to carry him to the ambulance.
I received a call from his son to meet them at the very same spot where the incident occurred two nights prior. Upon seeing me he spoke rapidly in Arabic “Habibi, you saved my life, how could I ever thank you. You are now part of our family forever.”