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MAY 2, 2008

Man's beating death is feared to be a hate crime

Cincinnati--The March 27 beating and robbery of a man in the Camp Washington neighborhood has raised fears that he was targeted because he was gay.

Two teenagers will face murder charges after James McGee, 43, died on April 22, following almost a month in a coma.

McGee was walking on Colerain Ave., returning from buying beer and cigarettes from a Bates Ave. convenience store, when the 13-year-old and 14-year old boys attacked him after following him from near the store.

They jumped him, beating him with their fists. One report indicated that they were armed with brass knuckles.

McGee suffered head and internal injuries in the attack. A witness heard one boy telling the other that McGee had AIDS. Tests performed at the hospital proved that to be false.

The witness chased the duo away, but they quickly rifled through McGee’s pockets before fleeing. According to WCPO Channel 9, the teens came away with no money.

The two were later arrested.

The mother of the 14-year-old insists that, while her son was there and went through McGee’s pockets, he did not attack the man.

Her son is likely to be tried as an adult. Ohio law prohibits the 13-year old from being tried as an adult in the case.

“These boys could have asked for his money,” McGee’s partner Scott Jones told WLWT Channel 5. “James was so kind-hearted he would have given it to them. They didn’t have to kill him.”

While news coverage of the attack make little reference to the possibility of anti-gay motivation, members of the community are certain that McGee’s sexual orientation was a factor.

Mark Kallich, who did not know McGee or Jones before the murder, is one of the people organizing a May 2 memorial service at Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church.

Kallich and his partner were threatened at a downtown restaurant last year because of their sexual orientation, and a friend of his was attacked at a convenience store in an affluent area.

He said that when he saw photos of McGee showing him with longer, dyed-blonde hair, he instantly realized McGee was gay.

“This man was singled out,” Kallich insisted.

He presumes that the teens who killed McGee lived nearby and had seen him before.

“It’s a horrible incident, it’s a hateful incident,” he said. “It’s intimidating to the overall community.”

Beyond Kallich’s opinion on the matter are Jones’.

“His partner feels it’s a hate crime,” Kallich said. “I think his feelings carry far more weight than anyone else.”

Kallich is especially concerned about LGBT people living in poorer areas of the city.

“People are bigoted in every walk of life,” he noted. “But in some echelons where we have bigoted people, this hatred is kept under wraps because it won’t fly.”

In addition to the service, Kallich was raising money for a full-page ad in the Cincinnati Enquirer urging readers to work together to combat violence and hate crime. The plan was to run the ad in the May 1 issue.


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