On Sunday May 26th, twin brothers Aaron and Kristin Parker were on their way home when they were brutally attacked on the lower East Side of Manhattan. According to surveillance footage (see below), some 10-12 men surrounded the 31-year-olds between Sutra Lounge and 1st & 1st Deli. Aaron Parker recalls, “I remember as we were trying to protect each other, we said 'There is peace here, we don’t want to fight and we are just on our way home.’”
Ariel Palitz, a co-founder of Sutra Lounge, was closing for the night when she heard the commotion outside, “I was told there was a fight outside but by the time I got to the window, the crowd had dispersed. One of the brothers was talking angrily outside. The ambulance and one police car was on the scene.”
That one police car would NOT follow the victims to Beth Israel hospital where Aaron Parker suffered “a concussion, facial fracture, bruising around the eye socket, a fractured chin, cornea abrasion, and a broken nose. He coughs up blood lately. They believe it’s draining from a pocket of blood in his chin because he was kicked in the head repeatedly. They tell us he will have to have surgery. He’s in a lot of pain and he has a lot of numbing. The doctor says he might get the feeling in his face back and he might not,” according to girlfriend and popular natural hair vlogger, Cipriana Quann of Urban Bush Babes.
Although a statement was taken at the scene of the crime, no one followed the victims to document their injuries. “I had to call 911 from the hospital since no officers from the scene of the crime followed up at the hospital,” states Quann.
A reluctant report was taken at the hospital by another officer who responded to Quann’s 911 call. However; Quann would soon become an integral part of the investigation by putting the power of her cyber following and internal investigative skills to work. A follow-up was never made by the NYPD.
In fact, she says she"…called the precinct on Tuesday morning, May 28th to enquire about the complaint report number, since we were told to call then by police officers. Monday was Memorial Day. We were told the case was closed. I proceeded to find out why the case was closed and was repeatedly told that it was because the victims stated, ‘they would handle it themselves’ which was a lie.” The victim’s father called the NYPD to ask that the case be reopened; however, his request was ignored.
It was now three days after the attack and the victims had not heard from the NYPD.
“After seeing how frustrated my boyfriend and his brother were and how much pain and injury and after calling his father calling, I felt like there was no hope anywhere else. It really just came through the strength of my boyfriend; I just had to do something.”
She took her frustration to her following on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. She then went to the scene of the crime on Wednesday, May 29th with her uncle in search of witnesses, clues, surveillance footage or anything that would give them a lead on who attacked her boyfriend and brother. She was met by a man named Moses, the other co-owner of Sutra Lounge; he asked how he could help. Surprisingly, he’d been contacted by Ed Litvak of The Lo-Down, a local news outlet . He was aware of what happened the morning of the attack. Quann asked if there was any way they could view the surveillance footage for clues. What they found was shocking. It was the full footage of the attack from two different camera angles. Moses did not hesitate to make copies and hand them over to Quann. Thanks to cyber supporters bombarding Lisa Evers of Fox 5 News, Quann was able to have the footage aired on the 6 pm and 10 pm news. Before airing the footage; however, Evers contacted the police station to request a statement and hinted at the fact that she had footage of the incident. Quann reports that two hours before the footage aired on Fox news, Aaron Parker received a phone call from the NYPD. “They said they really needed to talk with Aaron and inquired if he had spoken with any press.”
Quann states that the police did not obtain footage of the beating until May 30th; however, Palitz of Sutra Lounge claims, “The same day we gave the footage to Cipriana, the NYPD came and requested footage from us as well. Moses downloaded the footage from them, too. I do not know what their motive was but ever since Cipriana left with the footage, they’ve been attentive and expressed their gratitude for our help in the investigation.” Help in the investigation? According to friends and family of the twins, it was an investigation that was reportedly closed. How attentive the NYPD becomes when a civilian obtains footage on their own merit. Palitz continued her defense of the most notorious police department in the country, “Little scuffles aren’t uncommon when it’s 4 or 5 in the morning and people are drunk. I’d like to believe the NYPD didn’t realize the severity of the situation. It’s not normal for something like this to happen in the East Village. It’s not something we are accustomed to.” Unfortunately as facts are uncovered, the incident was more than a drunken brawl. The NYPD has officially named it a “hate crime” and with the help of Quann and her supporters it has garnered the attention of politicians such as Vanessa Diaz Lopez, Chief of Staff to Council Woman Rosie Mendez.
Diaz states by email correspondence:
"I am glad that you are in contact with us as we have been following the issue and inquired within the 9th and 13thprecinct about this hate crime. We ALWAYS saw it as a hate crime despite how the NYPD had ruled it. I am asking one our staff members to follow this case closely and will have the Councilwoman call the precinct directly to inquire further to ensure the case is thoroughly investigated. We will be contacting you to discuss the case further with you."
What led the NYPD to deem it a hate crime? Witnesses. Witnesses who would not talk to EBONY.com out of fear for their safety but who spoke with Quann as to what exactly happened that night. “They said they heard, “’that’s how you take a nigger down.’ They heard them say that were from Boston.” While the victims and their families can breathe a little easier knowing these men will be brought to justice, Quann is still fighting. “First, I want the perpetrators caught and second I want to hold those accountable in the precinct that was responsible for closing the case.” She says, her decision to hold the NYPD responsible is not just for her boyfriend but for the countless followers and supporters that have shared their stories of injustice gone unnoticed. “Just having so many people share their stories when they were involved in a crime and there was never a follow up investigation how common this story is and no one knows where to go. Sometimes their loved ones don’t even make it,” she shares with tears in her voice.
Still, despite the pain and heavy medication, Aaron Parker’s has a heartfelt message for everyone who has supported his cause, “Speaking for my brother and I, we say thank you for all of your kind support. This is helping us heal. I am thankful for my girlfriend who took matters into her own hands to reopen this case. We are going to make a full recovery through the loving support of our family, friends and all of you. Plus, we have Wolverine healing powers!”
Click here to view the petition created on the twins’ behalf.
D. Kimberly is the creator of Missaleck.com, and a contributing writer to Uptownmagazine.com.