Ohio Police Investigate Attack on Gay Man as a Hate Crime
Police from Cleveland, Ohio, are calling the attack on a gay man, who was beaten Sunday night, a hate crime, Cleveland's NBC-affiliated station WKYC reports.
Jared Fox says he was walking from his car to a popular gay bar in Cleveland called Cocktails, just before midnight on Saturday when a group of 20 young men allegedly surrounded him, hurling anti-gay slurs.
"They didn't know if I had money. They didn't know anything about me," Fox said. "They saw that there was a gay bar at the corner and they saw me walking to it."
Fox told Cleveland's Fox 8, "I told them I didn't have anything and they just surrounded me. They were everywhere, and just started beating me. I fully believe it was because I am gay."
Fox, 26, said the group then attacked him, punching him in the face repeatedly and knocked him to the ground.
"They said what's in your pockets and I said, I got no money I'm broke, and they said, 'oh so you're one of those broke [slur]?' And then they just started swinging," Fox added.
Fox suffered a black eye, a ruptured right eardrum and some hearing loss. He also has several bruises over his body and the suspects stole the victim's cell phone. Fox lives in New York City but was in Cleveland visiting family.
Fox 8 reports that the attack was caught on Cocktail's surveillance cameras. The footage shows the group in the street moving towards the sidewalk where Fox was walking to the bar. They then beat Fox, knocking him to the ground and attacked him again.
"What hurt the most and when I got the most scared is when one of them said, 'Do you want to die?'," Fox told Fox 8.
Fox was able to escape and go into the bar to get help. According to Fox 8, Fox said he threw his cell phone and told the men that there were credit cards inside the cover, which diverted their attention.
According to Cleveland Police, a 9-1-1 call was made at 11:53 p.m. when a group of young men allegedly tried to beat another man in the same area. Cleveland Police Sgt. Sammy Morris said when officers said three additional calls came in about men disturbing the bar and also the assault against Fox.
Officers looked for the suspects but could not find anyone. The authorities are still investigating the incident, however.
Fox 8 reports that witnesses said they saw a group of young men loitering outside the bar about an hour before the attack.
"They were wearing bandanas to hide their faces and pulling their t-shirts up over the face so no one could see them," Ric Scardino, a witness, told Fox 8. Scardino and others said they called police three times up to an hour before the group beat Fox, because they were worried about their own safety. They said police only responded after Fox was assaulted. A Cleveland spokesperson said he could not confirm how many calls were made to police.
"This is not new in the city of Cleveland, many cities experience this and it needs to stop," said Phyllis Harris, the executive director of The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.
James Foster, the owner of Cocktails, told WKYC, that customers experience some form of hate several times each month, according to WKYC.
Fox, a former teacher, says he wants the attackers to face justice but also be educated and wants to make sure communities are safer.
"I would love to see these kids go to school," Fox said.
Watch a clip of Fox talking about the attack on YouTube below: