LGBT Leaders Warn Ohio Community After String of Alleged Hate Crimes
LGBT activists in Columbus, Ohio, are warning the city's LGBT community after three gay men were allegedly attacked over the last five days, LGBTQ Nation reports.
Local leaders are urging members of the LGBT community to be extra cautious during Pride Month as a gay man who was visiting Columbus was punched and kicked unconscious on Thursday. Chris Ashcraft was smoking outside Southbend Tavern, a gay bar in Columbus' Merion Village neighborhood, when at least two men approached him, asking for his help to start their car.
According to Sgt. Richard Weiner, a spokesman for the Columbus Police Department, patrons at the Southbend bar reported the incident late last week, and Ashcraft told the authorities he was approached by several men who asked him to jump-start their car.
Ashcraft, who was visiting Columbus from Crescent Springs, Ky., told Cincinnati's ABC affiliate station, WCPO, that he was attacked after attempting to help the men with their supposed car troubles.
"Once I was on the ground, they just kicked me in the face a couple times until I was unconscious," Ashcraft told the news station. "It was my guess an hour to an hour-and-a-half later before I woke up and, from what I'm told, crawled back to the bar where I was found laying behind the bar."
Ashcraft also told WCOP that he believes the attack was motivated by anti-gay hate. Weiner, however, says Ashcraft did not tell that to police and did not express that the attackers used anti-gay slurs towards him. The suspects did steal his wallet.
"There are creeps out there, and they don't like us," Gloria McCauley, executive director of BRAVO, the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, told LGBTQ Nation.
Last Sunday, Chris Kratavill was leaving work at a popular bar and restaurant and was attacked on his way home. He was still being treated for injuries Monday afternoon but according to his friend Robert Younkman, he is expected to be released soon. LGBTQ Nation notes that Kratavil was punched from behind and then beaten and kicked.
"He has a black belt," Younkman said. "If it had been a fair fight, it would have been a little more interesting. They would have picked the wrong little gay boy to pick on." He added that Kratavil has spoken with Columbus police and BRAVO. He didn't tell Younkman if the attackers used anti-gay language during the assault, but Younkman says his friend was not robbed.
David Conley, who is also gay, was attacked and robbed early Monday and posted a photo of himself on Facebook after the beating. "It sounds like hate crimes are back, boys and girls," the caption reads.
Conley said he called 911 when a group of men approached him from behind. He was on the phone with a dispatcher as they hit him with a 2-by-4. Police arrived quickly, and three men were arrested. Conley said the men made "vulgar comments as they approached that indicated an anti-gay bias," LGBTQ Nation writes.
Columbus' ABC affiliate station, WSYX, reported of another incident: a gay bar called Exile was broken into soon after employees left late Wednesday. A lone burglar stole $9,000 from an ATM, cash registers and lockers.
The string of attacks in Ohio come weeks after New York City was plagued with a number of anti-gay hate crimes, resulting in the murder of one gay man, 32-year-old Mark Carson, who was shot in the face in Manhattan's gay neighborhood of Greenwich Village.