Interracial Couple Attacked in NYC

Billie and Jacob James-Vogel (Image capture/NBC New York)
Billie and Jacob James-Vogel (Image capture/NBC New York)

NBC New York and NY1 are reporting an alleged hate crime that took place outside a bar in the New York City borough of Queens early Saturday morning.

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Billie and Jacob James-Vogel were leaving Shi restaurant in Long Island City with a gay friend after celebrating Billie's 40th birthday. As they walked down the street, Jacob, who is white, kissed his wife, Billie, who is black, and that's when the trouble began, according to the account given to NBC.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the argument began when one of the men kissed Billie James-Vogel, and words were exchanged between the husband and that man.

Jacob James-Vogel suffered a black eye and a head injury; his wife had a broken toe and other bruises.

Kelly said one person had been arrested, and police were still investigating.

"We're still looking at it as a possible hate crime," Kelly said.

The couple told NY1 that the managers at Shi refused to let the couple back inside to call 911 or seek safety from their attackers. Then one of the attackers came back to the scene pretending to be a cop in an attempt to ride along in the ambulance.

The couple said that while it was all going on, they went back to Shi for help, but were turned away at the door.

Shih Lee, the co-owner of the restaurant, said police were called, and said they couldn't let anyone back in out of fear for their other patrons.

"We couldn't assess the situation," Lee said. "The police had already been called, so we'd rather wait for them to come first."

The James-Vogels said that after the cops left, one of their attackers came back pretending to be a police officer while they were waiting in an ambulance.

"The EMT drivers didn't let him into the ambulance," Jacob James-Vogel said. "They then followed him and called the police."

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Thus far, one arrest, of 28-year-old Nikolaos Katsos, has been made. The charges could be upgraded from assault and harrasment to a hate crime. The other attackers are still on the loose.

Read more at NBC New York and NY1. 

Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at VerySmartBrothas.com and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.

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