Teen arrested in Staten Island bias attack

August 21, 2010 8:38:18 PM PDT
Police arrested a 17-year-old boy in connection with a bias attack earlier this week in Staten Island.

It's bias attack number 12.

A 15-year-old Hispanic boy was robbed while his assailant yelled anti-Mexican comments Wednesday night.

"He's my friend, and everybody's friend. And nothing like this never happened," said neighbor, Brooklyn St. John.

Police say the 15-year-old victim was approached by a group of black males near corner of North Burgher and Doe Place in the West Brighton section of Staten Island.

Investigators say, he tried to walk away, but 17-year-old Yashua Plair pulled out a knife and stole his iPod.

"I hope it stops. There's no point of hitting another guy. Why, because he doesn't speak English?" said neighbor, Thavindu Biuwela.

Since April, there have been 11 attacks on Hispanics and one on a gay couple. Archbishop Dolan will say mass Sunday morning at St. Mary's of the Assumption Church on Staten Island to help promote healing in the community.

The NYPD has established a Hate Crimes Task Force, and has intensified it's presence in Port Richmond, with a mobile command center, foot and mounted patrols.

"It's seems like if it's happening right on our block, it's sending them further out of Port Richmond, which we don't want to happen," said neighbor, Ruth David.

But, some West Brighton residents think the latest incident wasn't motivated by hate at all.

"I don't think it's a hate crime, it's just a recession out there," said neighbor, Carlos Sanches.

"I don't think it's not a hate crime because we have a bunch of Mexicans that live right there that never been robbed, never been touched. We have Hindus, we have all different types of people. He just got robbed because he had something that they wanted," St. John said.

Plair is charged with Robbery as a Hate Crime and Menacing as a Hate Crime.