Groping Attack Victims Host Rally; Safety Seminar Held

Michael Gianaris

August 24, 2011

Queens Gazette wrote about the Astoria Against Violence rally Senator Gianaris attended in response to recent groping incidents in the neighborhood. It is important that we work together to keep our streets safe.

What started out as a single post on a local Web site (WLA) about a woman who was groped by a man riding a bicycle, culminated in 45 women coming out with their shared experiences, two arrests and a rally organized by two of the victims to speak out against sexual harassment and abuse.

Kate Salute and Michelle Gutmann, the original bloggers, formed Astoria Against Violence and organized the rally held on August 18 at Athens Square Park, where they were joined by Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Safe Horizon, the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention (SAVI) Program, the New York Anti-Crime Agency, self defense experts and other community organizations.

Salute and Gutmann were instrumental in helping police compile a sketch of one of the suspects, who was arrested on July 19, shortly after the first post appeared on the Web. Vallone, who was also made aware of these happenings by the accounts on WLA, immediately intervened and encouraged Astoria residents who may have been victims of these crimes to alert police.

In addition to planning the rally, which was unfortunately cancelled midway through due to heavy rain, Salute and Gutmann also started an online survey in which they collected useful information from other women who were involved in groping attacks.

Read the full article here.