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July 17, 2009


Fourth of July attacks send 3 Columbus men to hospital

Columbus--Red, White and Boom, central Ohio’s largest Independence Day celebration, was marred this year by a trio of anti-gay attacks downtown and in the Short North.

Two of the three assaults, which all occurred within an hour and a half, were on men walking alone. The third victim had been walking with friends, but dropped back to send a text message. When he was attacked, his friends were a half-block ahead of him.

“It started as the downtown crowds were in the process of dispersing,” said Gloria McCauley, executive director of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization. “One theory is that this was a group of thugs, possibly from outlying areas. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were intoxicated, but they were sober enough to inflict some serious damage.”

One attack was near the corner of Hubbard and North High Street in the Short North, and the other two were a few blocks apart in downtown. All three were in the central Columbus area that contains many of the city’s LGBT bars and businesses.

There were six or seven assailants, and in each case, they shouted anti-gay epithets while attacking their victims. They kicked and punched, and police believe brass knuckles were used.

Each of the three victims required medical attention.

“These assailants are cowards,” McCauley said. “They’re going to go for somebody they perceive to be an easy victim.”

“Six or seven thugs attacking one individual is a cowardly incident,” she concluded.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have positive IDs on any of these assailants, but the victims’ descriptions were so close that it makes it likely that it was the same group.”

Even though it appears the night of violence was an isolated occurrence, McCauley fears what could happen if the assailants are not arrested.

“Looking to the future, my fear is that these thugs, having done this one evening, what’s going to happen the next time they get together and go drinking?” she asked. “That’s fairly typical of hate crime progression. If it’s not interrupted, they will do it again.”

“That’s why we issue the community alerts, so people can keep a wary eye out,” she noted.

BRAVO and other organizations always warn against walking alone, and stress the importance of being aware of one’s surroundings. Since in all three incidents, the victims were alone, that advice still holds true.

Even the victim who was walking with friends became separated from the rest of his group when he was attacked.

Anyone with information about the attacks is asked to call BRAVO at 614-2947867 or the Columbus Police at 614-6454545.




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