Banya El-Amin, the man seen in a cell phone video smashing a wooden chair of the heads of two gay men in a Manhattan restaurant last month, is speaking out for the first time since the attack that gained national attention as a possible hate crime. And while he fully admits to his part in the incident, he claims he's the victim.
"I was the victim. People don't realize that. People don't know that," El-Amin said to blogger Waddie G in an exclusive interview published earlier this week.
According to El-Amin's account, which was published on G-List Society, the incident in the Chelsea restaurant was provoked by Jonathan Snipes, whom he later beat with the chair. El-Amin says he saw two men arguing with each other at the Chelsea Dallas BBQ. Concerned that their noise would spill over to a nearby table with women seated, he spoke to the couple.
"So I said, 'Hey guys! There are ladies here,'" El-Amin said. "I said it in a tone that was authoritative to get their attention. However, they continued.
"Moments later, it appeared that Mr. Snipes was going to leave the restaurant," he continued. "But by standing at the door, he directed his attention toward me, walked toward me and said, 'And YOU calling us ladies!' And then he struck me. He struck me in the head with an object. I'm not sure what it was, but it felt like a heavy blunt object -- and it hurt."
El-Amin also said he walked away from the incident injured himself.
"I had a head injury. I was treated by a nurse," he said. "I had a contusion, a big knot from whatever he hit me with and two lacerations. [...] I wish I have taken pictures because I didn't think that this [news] would go out as big at it is."
According to El-Amin, the now-famous viral video of him smashing the chair over the couples' heads began after the alleged provocation.
El-Amin said that Snipes actions made him fear for his own safety.
"I'm 6'6" and roughly close to 300 pounds," he said. "Normally when someone sees me stand up, they're slightly intimidated. This guy was not... He didn't back down at all."
"My only thought was to facilitate an exit that they would not follow behind us because there was no one there to stop them from doing so -- or pull out a weapon out on us," he said. "There was a chair that's closest thing to me. That's why I threw it. I didn't look it as a way to maim him or use as a deadly force.
"I didn't know if [Snipes] had a weapon or not, or [that Snipes' companion] was going to join in," El-Amin continued. "I didn't know if we were going to be hurt. I didn't know if the people at my table were going to be hurt. It could have been worse. So, my reactions were more out of fear."
While the video shows El-Amin's part in the altercation, blogger Waddie G claims to have statements backing up his story which he is choosing not to publish.
"I've been called a lot of things. And there is no way possible if you know me or my life, I could be called anywhere near a homophobe or anything like that.," El-Amin told Waddie G. "That is about the furthest thing from the truth about me."
What El-Amin has been called is a "career criminal" by NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. According to police records El-Amin has 18 prior arrests for assault, shoplifting, drug possession, credit card fraud, forgery and possession of stolen property. His 22-year arrest record spans six states.
El-Amin is still at large and has been consulting with an attorney.
Blogger Waddie G, whose G-List Society website expresses his "love of urban pup, queer & social issues," has been quick to criticize "gay media blogs and writers and New York gay politicians manipulated mainstream media, NYPD and a more-divided gay community by selfishly sensationalizing a story."
From our media partner EDGE