Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brody's Notes... Long Beach California Police Investigate Uptick In Anti-Gay Assaults

By Brody Levesque | LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- A spokesperson for the city of Long Beach police department acknowledged that police officials are investigating a rash of anti-gay assaults in the city's LGBTQ neighborhood enclave known as "the Broadway Corridor."
Rico Fernandez told a reporter for the Los Angeles Times that the city's police are beefing up patrols in the neighborhood.
"We do have an obligation to protect everybody's rights and make sure everybody has the freedom to go about their business and be whoever they want to be," he said.
Long Beach police are investigating three incidents in the last two weeks in which gay men were assaulted in or near the city's Broadway Corridor, a neighborhood known for its tight-knit gay and lesbian community.
The suspect in one case has been charged with a hate crime, but the other cases are still under investigation, said police spokesman Fernandez.
The first incident was reported just before 6 p.m. July 24 near the Falcon, a popular gay bar in the Broadway corridor.
"We don't believe any of these three are connected in any way," Fernandez said. "We just think it's a coincidence that three incidents happened relatively close to each other."
Martin Daniel Sanchez
Photo courtesy of Eric Avila
In the first incident, Martin Daniel Sanchez from Ontario, California, was visiting with Long Beach resident Eric Avila and other friends the weekend of July 24. That day they all went to The Falcon, a bar located at 1435 E. Broadway, for some drinks, Avila told a reporter for a local Long Beach community newspaper which first reported the story:
“As we were leaving the bar, there was this guy who appeared to be fighting with his girlfriend,” Avila said.
He said that he heard the man use a gay slur, and became a little worried about his friends as they passed by — especially as the man’s attention turned to them.
“Sure enough, as my friends are walking past, he goes to everybody, ‘Are you guys gay?’” Avila said.
When Sanchez replied in the affirmative, the man punched him in the face, Avila said, dropping the young man to the ground.
“I dialed 9-1-1 right away, but the guy started running away,” he said, noting that he and others went after the man. “It felt like we were in a movie just running through the neighborhood yelling at him to stop.”
LBPD responded to Avila’s call, which came in at 5:30 p.m., said Nancy Pratt, LBPD public information officer.
Long Beach Police officers arrested 22-year-old Jorge Ibarrias of Torrance, California, who had been cornered in an apartment complex near the scene by Avila's companions who had given chase after the suspect fled according to the LBPD's Pratt. The case is assigned to the LBPD Violent Crimes Detail, and was presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which has filed charges for felony battery with a hate crime enhancement last week. Ibarrias remains in jail without bond and has pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance.
Sanchez was taken to a local hospital and then referred to a dentist — but work could not be completed for several days because of all the swelling on his face, Sanchez was missing three teeth and several others were cracked. The costs of medical and dental repairs will be as much as $5,000 — Sanchez’s insurance only would cover $1,200.  Avila said that he and others will be hosting a fundraiser which will include entertainment and a raffle drawing at the Falcon at 3 p.m on August 14 to help raise the necessary funds.
“Hate is not the way to go,” he said. “I would like to send a counter message, for us as community members and leaders to rise above such senseless acts such as this.”
The LA Times further reported:
Three days later, near East 4th Street and Orange Avenue, another man was beaten and called slurs. That case is being investigated as a battery and a possible hate incident, though not a hate crime, Fernandez said. The difference, he said, is that police do not believe that hatred specifically against gays was the initial motivation.
Four days after the second attack, on Sundayabout 1:30 a.m., several men walking on Broadway, two blocks from the site of the initial incident, were approached by another group that used slurs against them, police said. A fight broke out before the groups separated. But the group that made the insults returned shortly afterward with several other people and assaulted three of the men who had been walking down the street, police said.
Long Beach City Councilman, Dr. Robert Garcia, who chairs the city's Public Safety Committee, has scheduled a community rally for 6 p.m. Thursday, at Hot Java on the corner of Broadway and Junipero to show support for the LGBT community.
“Now is the time for all Long Beach residents to come together and show our unity, strength and love,” Garcia said. "These incidents have no place in our city," he said.


Desmond Rutherford said...

U.S. states should consider and implement criminal compensation legislation where a court can award a sum of money to a victim of criminal assault.

We have such legislation in Australia and payments are made to no fault victims and then recouped where possible from the offender.