Man who fatally punched victim in Union Square for being white gets 25 years

Union Square (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, a black man who attacked three people in Union Square for being white, including one person who died as a result of his injuries, was sentenced to 25 years in a state prison.

The lengthy sentence for LaShawn Marten, 44, was in part due to the fact that the assaults were considered hate crimes.

He was found guilty on July 5, nearly four years after the incidents on September 4, 2013.

That afternoon, Marten, a regular chess player at Union Square Park, had stated he would “knock out” the next white person who passed him. Not long after this, a 62-year-old man, Jeffrey Babbitt, who was white, walked by, and Marten punched him in the face. Babbitt, who got knocked down to the ground from the blow, hit his head hard on the pavement.

Moments later, when a 19-year-old bystander (also white) tried to help Babbit, Marten punched him in the face as well. When a third Good Samaritan, a 47-year-old man tried to help, Marten hit him in the head so hard that he was knocked unconscious.

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Homelessness – and why New Yorkers have the right to expect action

The topic of homelessness has garnered many headlines in recent weeks, including in this newspaper, which has been chronicling the concerns of neighbors of the 850-bed men’s shelter at Bellevue Hospital. Additionally, in a recent letter to the editor, a T&V reader remarked on her observation that homeless people have even been sleeping in and around Stuyvesant Town.

Therefore, we were relieved to hear Mayor Bill de Blasio and the first lady roll out a plan last Thursday to help the mentally ill in this city, including those who are homeless and have histories of violence or aggressive behavior, get easier access to services they need. Though it doesn’t focus on the homeless in particular, the plan is focused on getting different city agencies to start communicating in a meaningful way in order to determine the best course of action (treatment vs. jail, for instance) when dealing with particular individuals.

This initiative really can’t start soon enough.

In Kips Bay, where residents have for years complained of homeless men fighting, using pay phones as toilets, and masturbating in plain sight, tips get swapped by neighbors on Facebook on how to deal with the ongoing problem themselves. One resident recently advised others not to give money to the shelter residents, in the hope that they’ll panhandle elsewhere. It’s worth pointing out, though, that for those who do want to help the homeless, offering money isn’t the only way to do this.

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