Two transgender women making a documentary about violence against transgender women were attacked in Queens by two hate-filled bigots who blasted them with pepper spray, they said Monday.
Norma Ureiro and Bianey Garcia were recording video while walking west on Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights at about 2:25 a.m. Saturday when a man and woman started following them and showering them with anti-transgender slurs.
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When they reached two other members of their film crew at 93rd St., the woman, Paola Custodio, sprayed them with a liquid, which police said was unknown but they said was pepper spray.
“This time it was only pepper spray but next time it could be a knife or a gun,” said Ureiro, 43.
Garcia, 29, said the woman sprayed her in the back and shoulder. Ureiro told cops the spray hit her chest, causing a burning sensation, pain and redness, according to court papers. She refused medical attention, police said.
Custodio, 24, of Elmhurst, was arrested at the scene and charged with felony assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, authorities said.
According to the two filmmakers, Custodio’s male companion returned after the arrest and pepper sprayed Garcia in the face, calling her a “f—g f–t,” she said. She said she called police again.
“The police violated our rights. They completely ignored us. They needed to take seriously the threats they made,” said Ureiro.
Custodio was arraigned Saturday in Queens Criminal Court and released without bail, records show. An order of protection was issued barring her from contact with Ureiro.
Custodio has been arrested seven previous times, according to a police source, including in connection with a Feb. 24 burglary in Queens.
Her attorney, Gregory Coleman, declined to comment on Monday.
The Queens-based filmmakers are activists with Make the Road, an immigrant advocacy group.
Mateo Guerrero, an organizer with Make the Road, said at a press conference on Monday at the scene of the alleged attack that he wants businesses in the city to post signs indicating they are safe havens for people being harassed. He said he is working with the city to fund bystander training.
Tiffany Cabán, who appears to hold a slim lead in last week’s Democratic primary election for Queens district attorney, told the press conference, “Just yesterday I joined thousands and thousands to celebrate our city’s diverse and beautiful LGBTQIA+ community at the Pride parade. But this attack is a reminder of how much work we still have to do.”
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