News :: Crime

Atlanta Man Says He Was the Attacked Because He is Gay

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Aug 7, 2012
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A gay man says he was attacked in Atlanta, Ga., after an unknown male asked him if he was gay, the Georgia Voice reported.

The man, who has not been identified, told local authorities he was attacked in Atlantic Station last weekend while he was on his way to the Fenuxe Magazine Best of Atlanta Fire Party. The attacker beat the victim after he asked him if he was gay and fled the scene on foot. No arrests have been made, according to a statement from the Atlantic Police Department.

Atlantic Station is a neighborhood on the northwestern edge of Midtown Atlanta.

Initial reports of the incident indicated that a couple was attacked but sources now claim only one man was beaten.

"It appears a gay couple was walking near 361 17th St. (Atlantic Station) when they were approached by an unknown male," Carlos Campos, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement last weekend. "The male asked the couple if they were gay. When the couple replied yes, the male punched one of them in the face, then fled on foot. Officers responded. The victim was advised to go to the hospital for examination. Nothing further as to extent of injuries. No arrest has been made. LGBT Unit notified," he said.

Paul Swicord, an activist and a friend of the victim, also told the Georgia Voice that one person was beaten. Swicord did not witness the attack but says he consoled the man at the Fire Party. He also said he talked with police about the incident and went to the hospital with the victim.

Swicord, who would not identify the victim per his request, said he has been released from the hospital after getting five stitches for a puncture wound under his right eye. He also suffered a strained wrist, Swicord said.

"He is out of the closet, he just wants to be the first to tell his mother so she does not read it in the media first," Swicord said in a statement. The activist also claims that the security officer he spoke with was reluctant to help.

"After taking some information, the security guard said it would be 3 to 6 weeks before a report could be made available and to review the video footage," Swicord said. "I tried to take a photo of the security guard so that I would have a record of who we had spoke with. He held his hand up and blocked my camera phone and blocked the photo. There was no compassion in this security officer for the victim. He was reluctant to take a report and document the incident."

On Monday, after allegations were made that the security guard was hesitant to help the victim and allegedly tried to eject him and Swicord from the event, Elizabeth Hagin, a spokeswoman for Atlantic Station released a statement denying the claims, Project Atlanta points out.

"We are committed to serving the diverse Midtown neighborhood, including the LGBT community, a commitment that has been demonstrated by our partnership with events such as the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus Big Wig Party and the Fenuxe Magazine Best of Atlanta Fire Party and the diversity in our own management team," Hagin said.

"In the case of Saturday’s incident, witnesses have given both Atlantic Station Public Safety officers and APD officers conflicting information. We are cooperating in the investigation and will share information as it becomes available. Our own public safety officers handled the incident according to protocol and were respectful to all parties involved. The safety of all guests at Atlantic Station is our top priority."

This isn’t the only brutal gay bashing in Atlanta this year that has attracted national attention, however.

Back in February, a group of young black men videotaped the beating of 20-year-old Brandon White. The clip, which quickly went viral, showed the men attacking the young gay man while shouting homophobic slurs, EDGE reported.

Last month, three of White’s attackers were sentenced to five years in prison but some gay Atlanta gay activists did not agree with the sentence and said the men should have been given a lighter punishment.

"Our primary interest is seeing an end to the homophobia that seems to have been a dominant factor in the attack on Mr. White. We do not believe that this will be accomplished by a long sentence of imprisonment.... We believe that the time each of these young men has already spent behind bars has been a significant loss of freedom. We ask that any additional term of imprisonment you impose be probated," a letter from members of Project Q Atlanta, a LGBT rights group based in Atlanta, read.

Others in the Atlanta LGBT community -- as well as gay activists from around the country -- would disagree that these thugs were treated "too harshly."

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