rider killed in hate crime attack
Detroit--A brutal attack on an elderly gay man has left the victim dead and the community shaken.
Andrew Anthos, 72, was returning from the public library on a city bus on February 13 when another passenger asked if he was gay. Anthos answered yes, and the man continued to harass him for the rest of the ride.
When Anthos got off the bus, the other passenger followed him and hit him in the head with a metal pipe in front of Anthos’ apartment.
Paralyzed from the neck down, Anthos was able to tell police what happened before he fell into a coma in the hospital. He succumbed to his injuries on February 23.
Anthos, whose family confirmed that he was gay, often traveled to the state capital of Lansing to press for the capitol dome to be lit in red, white and blue for one night a year as a tribute to servicemembers and police officers.
“Since the attack on Andrew Anthos, we have learned of a gentle soul that graced our city and state,” said Melissa Pope, director of victim services for the Triangle Foundation, Michigan’s largest LGBT organization. “Andrew had more gifts to give and more moments to enjoy. But this will never come to be, because of the hatred and brutality of a homophobic assailant.”
“Andrew Anthos was a wonderful fellow who was loved by his family and thousands of people he encountered in Detroit and Lansing over his many years as a true man about town,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, Triangle’s executive director. “In the end, the fact that he was a wonderful man didn’t account for much. The fact that he was gay did.”
Montgomery placed the blame for the attack not only on the assailant himself, but also on anti-gay activists “who have seeded the air with hatred and animosity toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.”
“There are those who have made their careers in the anti-gay industry. Basketball stars speak openly about their hate for gays. Reckless judges rule that we don’t deserve health benefits. So-called family values types denounce us,” he fumed. “Well, Andrew Anthos had a family and he had great value. The bigots have made the lives of LGBT people cheap, throwaway commodities. They have dehumanized us, they have called for open season on us.”
“They have put us all at risk,” he concluded, noting an attack on a gay man outside of a popular bar in Detroit last year. “These extremist political, religious and social leaders must be called out for what they are--hatemongers. They are a menace to decent, civil society.”
State Senator Hansen Clarke pointed to the murder as a call to pass hate crime legislation that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We need to call this exactly what it is, a hate crime, and punish the perpetrator as such,” the senator said.
“It’s a shame that Andrew Anthos will never see the capitol illuminated like he had always dreamed,” Clarke said, “but his family is still carrying on his crusade, and I’m going to do everything I can in Lansing to see the capitol lit in honor of our veterans, and in honor of the man who worked so hard to see it done.”
Police in Detroit are investigating the murder as a hate crime, although Michigan’s laws don’t include sexual orientation in the definitions.
Anthos’ cousin, Athena Fedenis, was pleased with the efforts of police and the Triangle Foundation. She also expressed frustration that the “sick, homophobic coward” who took her cousin’s life was still at large.
Most of all, though, she was sad at the loss of her cousin, who members of the family called “Buddy.”
“Some people may say that Buddy was different. Aren’t we all?” she asked. “Was Buddy different because he loved life? Was he different because he respected everyone he met? Was he different because he believed in the city of Detroit when no one else did? Was he different because he thought it was important to light the dome of our state capitol on the Fourth of July in red, white and blue to honor our veterans and law enforcement officers?”
“Yes, he was different, because he cared enough to do something about the things he believed in,” Fedenis said.