A group of friends who are deaf and use sign language to communicate were stabbed in a Florida bar after a woman thought their signing was gang signs.
Talk about jumping to conclusions.
The New York Daily News reports that, on Saturday night, 31-year-old Alfred Stewart was with friends who are also deaf at the Ocean’s Eleven Lounge in Hallendale Beach, Florida, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. 45-year-old Barbara Lee thought they were “throwing gang signs at her, and responded by flashing gang signs back at them,” after which Stewart and his friends “motioned for her to leave them alone.”
Lee then left the bar and returned with 19-year-old Marco Ibanez and a 17-year-old who was not identified. Ibanez pulled a knife on Stewart and his friends.
Says Brenda Stewart, who was injured while trying to help her son and his friends, on WSVN:
“They all were doing hand signs, and it went as if someone thought it was a gang sign. He got stabbed, and the other one was cut up. His friend got cut, and he got stabbed. Another one of his friends was talking to the other guy, must have been trying to let the other guy know that it was just talk, and he tried to stop the other people from fighting, and the guy came from behind him and stabbed him, so he doesn’t know who it was that stabbed him or nothing. Stabbed him in his back.”
Brenda Stewart said there was “no way” her son was making gang signs:
“Only sign language. That’s the only way all of them, they do sign language.”
Stewart and three friends had to be taken to the hospital and a bouncer had a bottle broken over his head. Fortunately, no one received life-threatening injuries. Lee, Ibanez, and the 17-year-old have been arrested and charged with aggravated battery; they are in police custody.
Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for Stewart and his friends and that they keep talking — signing — as much as ever, wherever and everywhere.
Photo of sign for "translate" by Danielle-Claude Bélanger on Wikimedia Commons