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Victim of hate crime remembered: Bench named in honor of Michael Sandy

Plumb Beach will always have a place for Michael J. Sandy.

A special memorial bench for the gay Brooklynite killed four years ago when a crew of biased brutes chased him onto the Belt Parkway was unveiled at the Plumb Beach Rest Stop on Oct. 22 — a tribute many hope will both honor Sandy and act as a call to abolish hate in all forms.

“We hope this will inform park patrons of this senseless tragedy and serve as a symbol to promote tolerance and acceptance throughout the city,” said Tony Bruce, the executive director of the Michael J. Sandy Foundation, which raised the money for the bench.

Sandy, a 28-year-old Bushwick resident, was struck by a car as he tried to escape the four young toughs who lured him to Sheepshead Bay with the false promise of sex in 2006.

The suspects — who were all convicted of hate-crime charges — met Sandy in an Internet chat room. They convinced him to join them for a rendezvous at the rest stop, then tried to rob him when he approached, police said. They later admitted to targeting the gay man because they thought he would be too afraid to fight back.

But Sandy did fight back — and break free. His only means of escape from the thieves, however, was across the busy Belt Parkway.

“[The memorial] should serve as a reminder that hate kills,” said Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Sheepshead Bay). “At this idyllic spot on the southern Brooklyn waterfront, we want to keep Michael Sandy in our collective consciousness and, at the same time, keep us vigilant in the battle to stop hate violence in our society.”

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