The GLBTQQ Community Discusses Bashings in Forum
In a response to the gay bashings in the Portland area this weekend, a community forum was held tonight at the Q Center (4115 N Mississippi) by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Questioning (GLBTQQ) community to ask questions, get answers and come up with solutions.
On 5/30/10, three members of the Portland GLBTQQ community were attacked. Two of the three men attacked came to the Q Center to give their account of what happened over the weekend. Around 2am, a group left Red Cap and were walking past Living Rooms Theater including 3 drag queens and 3 queer men. They were attacked by an undetermined group of men. The men yelled, "Faggots" and advanced upon the group. One queen got hit three to four times in the face. The queer group fought back but were continually attacked, not only physically but with remarks like, "I hope you die of AIDS." One man, Birch, was completely knocked out.
The police who happened to be at Rocco's ran over, asked if they need assistance. The perps ran off and the police asked which way they went. The victims pointed out which way but the police were unable to pursue the perps due to a lack of description.
Birch said that he has no memories of the incident. His memories stop about 10 minutes before it happened. However, since he has become identified as a victim in the community, he has encountered various people coming forth, talking about their various bashings and an attempted rape.
Birch said, "If we as a community do not report the crime, then there are no statistics." A cop told Birch that this kind of incident is not typical in Portland. Clearly, the bashings haven't been reported or they haven't been taken seriously by the police. Most of the people (around 200) in attendance raised their hands when a speaker then asked who has known someone that has been bashed.
Airick from Blowpony also spoke. Airick has been the victim of a queer bashing previously that almost left him paralyzed. Last year, Airick was also attacked outside of Blowpony. He heard someone yell, "You AIDS infested faggots." The man pushed him but Airick had restrained another man to prevent him from hitting a female friend. He called the police and they told him to let go of the man. After he did, the pushing man hit him and knocking the phone out of his hand. Originally, he was told that it would be a hate crime because dispatch heard the guy's derogatory slurs against Airick; it was later reduced to harassment.
Airick recounted numerous other incidents where the police arrived and where they did nothing. Victims have been attacked in front of police, incidents have been reported to police. The cops have done nothing. One time, they even referred to a queer man who had just been punched in the face by saying, "I can't even tell if he's a man or a woman," and disregarded his attack.
Airick added that the rumored Neo-Nazi invoked queer bashing last April (around the time of Hitler's birthday) were just rumors, although it did evoke an increase of police patrolling around the Blowpony venue which provided reassurance.
Mayor (and new police commissioner) Sam Adams said that filing a police report after an incident is vital. "Portland is the kind of city that no matter who you are or how you're dressed, you have the right to not only feel safe but to be safe."
The new chief of police Mike Reese stated how he is a servant to the people, committed to the community's safety. He said that people should be able to walk in their community and be who they are. Eric Hendricks, asst chief of police, said they know of the assault that took place this weekend and a report was taken Monday afternoon. Queer bashing or "Bias Crime" reports are automatically assigned a detective to investigate it. He said that the number of the Bias Crime reports have gone down drastically over the past four years. After gauging the previous response of the audience, Hendricks acknowledged that the number of reported crimes is greatly at odds with the number of actual assaults.
In response to a question about Airick's previously reported unacknowledged attacks, Hendricks stated one should call the IPR review number. Adams stated that all officers are now required to hand out a business card. However, just yesterday, when being interviewed about the attacks that happened this weekend, one of the panel members said he asked the officers for cards and they said they didn't have any. Airick also directly confronted Adams about the lack of police assistance at the Blowpony functions but received no resolve from him.
Reese sympathized with Bias Crime victims, saying that they can get attacked on the street and then again during the litigation which determines whether or not it is a Bias Crime. Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Underhill talked about making sure we as a community feel comfortable in making a report. He stated, "We need to take ownership of some of the reports." He also said that he wanted to take the time to hear Airick's story.
Underhill also clarified some of the repercussions of Bias Crimes. He stated that if two or more people are directing a hate crime, it's a felony. They have to aid and albeit each other in order for them each to be charged with the felony.
Questions from the audience asked the agency panel about increasing the police presence around the downtown bar area, particularly on Stark where the most recent bashings have occurred and where bashing are typically happen, especially during the Rose Festival *cough *cough *fleet week*.
Adams suggested community patrols. An audience member also asked about increased police presence during Pride to provide reassurance. "We like horses," one queer man jovially quipped. The police chief did say that last year, the naked bike ride occurred at the same time which stretched the police force resources. He also said that he wanted to make sure people had a good time without feeling intimidated by the increased force.
"The hatred toward us as queer beings is very real," Airick said. "I've heard this before. I think it's time that we unify." He added that we know more about homosexuality and transgender lifestyles than they do and we can work better to end this.
A self defense class is being promoted at the Q Center as well as a de-escalation class happening at In Other Words. Airick also said that queer patrols were needed as well as community patrols. More community forums which cover solutions offered at this forum were promised to happen in the future.
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