Teen suspect charged with murder as a hate crime in O’Shae Sibley killing

O'Shae Sibley

The 17-year-old suspected of killing gay dancer O’Shae Sibley has been charged with murder as a hate crime. 

On Saturday (5 August), the New York City Police Department (NYPD) confirmed the 17-year-old suspect from Brooklyn has been charged with murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. 

Sibley, 28, was fatally stabbed at a gas station on Coney Island Avenue, New York on 29 July, where he and his friends had reportedly been voguing to music from Beyoncé’s Renaissance album. They were approached by a group of men shouting anti-gay slurs, according to police.

Voguing is a form of expression originating from queer, Black ballroom culture in the 1980s. Renaissance, Beyoncé’s latest album, pays homage to ballroom culture in its music, style and aesthetic and was partly dedicated to her late gay uncle Johnny.

The suspect has not yet been named and a spokesperson for the NYPD said they are unsure whether he will be charged as an adult. 

In a press announcement, Joseph Kenny, assistant chief at the NYPD’s detective bureau, said the suspect is the only person who will be charged in relation to the incident.

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Kenny said the charge with a hate crime is “based on statements from the group in general”.

“You have a lot of anti-gay statements, and a lot of derogatory statements being made – anti-Black – from the group and from the defendant himself,” he said.

The mayor of New York City Eric Adams called the stabbing “something that was clearly a hate crime.”

“This is a city where you are free to express yourself, and that expression should never end with any form of violence,” Adams said.

The charging of the suspect follows hundreds of people congregating at the scene of the stabbing on Friday (4 August) for a defiant, voguing-filled vigil after it was revealed that the suspect was in police custody. 

Sibley’s death has been met with countless tributes, with Beyoncé herself marking the dancer’s killing with a simple message on her website: “Rest in power O’Shae Sibley.”

The dancer’s funeral will be held on Tuesday (8 August), with a GoFundMe set up to help cover the costs by Sibley’s father Jake Kelly. The fundraiser has garnered more than $60,000 in donations at the time of writing.

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.

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