In a lawsuit, a gay Jersey City couple says they were assaulted by their neighbors, who also allegedly routinely used homophobic rhetoric against them.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The six-count suit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court on May 11th, details some bitter exchanges between Glenn Trickel and Fidel Fernandez and their neighbors on Astor Place: Elvira, Militinia, and Richard Bland, who all live across the street from the plaintiffs.
Militinia Bland, commonly known as Tinia, is the president Astor Place Neighborhood Association, while Trickel is a Democratic Jersey City committeeman.
The first alleged violent incident dates back to an August 20th, 2016 block party, where Elvira Bland is accused of dragging Hernandez to the ground while hitting him.
“Without warning and with no apparent provocation, before Hernandez had noticed her presence, Elvira forcibly threw herself upon Hernandez, scratching, clawing, and kicking him in the process of dragging him to the ground,” the court filing says.
“After a brief entanglement, Hernandez was able to separate himself from Elvira and without further incident left the scene and retreated inside his home at 73 Astor Place to tend to his wounds.”
Through the suit, Hernandez then asserts that he was arrested after treating his wounds inside his home due to Elvira Bland telling a police officer she was the one attacked.
He also alleges that he was subsequently brought to the Jersey City Medical Center to have blood drawn to see if he was intoxicated, despite not consenting to do so.
A municipal court judge had previously found Elvira Bland not guilty of simple assault in connection to the incident, while Hernandez was found guilty, The Jersey Journal reported last year. Hernandez said at the time that he would appeal the decision.
Just five days after the block party, the Blands allegedly hung a sign up on their front door which said “Fidel Hernandez of 73 Astor Place (partner of committeeperson Glen Trickel) got drunk and bit me. Now I must take HIV prevention drugs for the next 6 months and be monitored for the rest of my life! Now you know!!”
It was around this time that “Militinia, Elvira and their associates regularly and directly assaulted the Plaintiffs with a variety of homophobic slurs.”
About a month later, September 15th, 2016, a “homemade molotov cocktail” was thrown into Trickel and Hernandez’s home, the court filing alleges.
In 2017, three separate criminal charges, filed by the Blands against the couple at different times, were dismissed, the suit says.
According to the lawsuit, the most egregious incident came when Trickel was jumped outside his house by two people on October 6th, 2017, one of which who was identified and arrested and claimed he was hired by Richard Bland – the son of Elvira Bland.
Richard Bland was eventually charged for his alleged role in the assault in 2018 before pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault in March 2019 and is yet to be sentenced, the civil suit states.
In May 2018, all three of the defendants were charged by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office with filing false police reports and falsifying criminal charges.
Court records show that Elvira Bland filed a suit against Hernandez on July 27th, 2018, though the case is sealed.
Trickel and Hernandez are suing the Blands for assault and battery, as well as conspiracy to commit those crimes, malicious prosecution, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Additionally, the Jersey City Police Department is accused of unlawful arrest and false imprisonment, with the JCPD and the city being named for allegedly refusing to investigate hate crimes.
A city spokeswoman declined to discuss pending litigation and court filings did not show legal counsel representing the Blands as of this writing.