According to the Portland police alert that went out today, a man was walking home alone from a friend's house just after midnight on November 1st and had to cross over the scary, barbed wire-encircled pedestrian walkway that goes over the train tracks at SE 16th and Brooklyn. This is an unsettling area—there is not much light at all and neighbors built an unpermitted skatepark at the base of the walkway, in part because the land was derelict and a magnet for crime.
At the bottom of the overpass, a man described as 6'1, muscular, white with freckles, and blond "made remarks" to the victim's about his sexual orientation. The muscular man, who was on a bike and accompanied by a friend on a bike, proceeded to severely beat the victim, leaving him unconscious on the street with serious head and abdominal injuries.
"He was just walking home," says Portland Police Detective Kevin Warren, who is investigating the assault as a bias crime. "He was minding his own business." According to Detective Warren, the victim is out of the hospital now.
This is a terrifying reminder that hate crimes happen even in the heart of Portland, where we feel safe. Crimes against people based on their sexual orientation or gender now outnumber reported racial hate crimes in Portland, based on the police stats. In 2010 so far, there have been 55 reported bias crimes, 21 of which were due to gender or sexual orientation compared to nine due to race.
Last spring, several men in drag were assaulted downtown for their orientation, sparking discussions between the queer community and police. The attacks eventually led to the formation of a downtown Queer Patrol.
If you have any information about this case or the suspect, please call 503-823-HELP or leave an anonymous tip here.
UPDATE: A couple people in the comments were asking about why it took the police a month to send out a notice about this case. Public Information Officer Lt. Kelli Sheffer says that the detective on the case was following up some leads right after the beating, but they didn't pan out so now the police are looking to the public for help. "They need some help, the leads they were looking at didn't work out," says Lt. Sheffer.
Also, here's a photo of the site of the crime on SE 16th and Brooklyn that I took earlier this month. Imagine it without the friendly skaters.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!