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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BREAKING: Anti-Gay Hate Crime Reported on Hawthorne Bridge

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Ugh. This is terrible. Portland Police have just announced that two men reported being assaulted near the Hawthorne Bridge on Sunday, a crowd of guys beating them because they were gay. Here's the full description from police:

On Sunday May 22, 2011 at 8:30 p.m. 23 year-old Brad Forkner and 25 year-old Christopher Rosevear were attacked by several suspects as they walked from the Hawthorne Bridge on the trail to the East Bank Esplanade.

Forkner and Rosevear had walked holding hands in Waterfront Park from the Burnside Bridge before going over the Hawthorne Bridge. As they walked they knew several men were behind them talking, laughing and pointing but they were not sure it was directed at them.

They walked onto the Hawthorne Bridge from Waterfront Park. They walked across the Hawthorne Bridge onto the trail toward the East Bank Esplanade. As they walked Forkner was pushed and punched by several subjects. He was able to break away to call 911. When he dialed 911 he was prompted to say 911, he yelled 911 into the cell phone and that seemed to stop the suspects from assaulting Rosevear. The suspects were hitting him in the head, face, back and ribs. The suspects are described as male, white, in their 20's and all about 5'11" inches tall. One was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, another was wearing a white or cream hooded sweatshirt and the third was wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt. The suspects ran south on the trail past the two victims.

When police arrived they searched the area for the suspects but found none. The victims said there were several people in the area when the attack occurred but none helped in any way. No one even yelled, "Stop" or "We are calling police".

It's incidents like this that remind Portlanders that we don't live in a bubble, that two men are not always safe holding hands even in the heart of Portland.

Just over fifty hate crimes were reported in Portland last year, with 20 of them due to perceived sexual orientation. Almost exactly one year ago, a group of people in drag were assaulted downtown and last fall, a gay man in SE Portland was terribly beaten while walking home.

Last years' assaults prompted discussions between the LGBT people, local police, and state law enforcement. Those conversations pushed the attorney general to quickly set up a system to report hate crimes online. Good on Forkner and Rosevear for reporting this to police—that's the only way the cretins who threatened them will ever be caught.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Detective Kevin Warren at 503-823-3761.

UPDATE 1:58PM—The Q Center sent out a response to the attack, noting that, "Our hearts and thoughts are with the men who were assaulted as they heal from their ordeal." The center is holding trainings for the Q Patrol, a citizen and police group that patrols downtown on weekends to deter violence against LGBT people, on three nights this week. Schedule here.

UPDATE 3:14 PM— Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese have issued statements on the attack, too. "Any two people in Portland should be able to take a walk, hand in hand, without fearing for their safety," says Adams. "I want to personally urge those witnesses to call our Bias Crime Detective, and share any information they may have," said Mayor Adams. From Chief Reese: "Portland is an open and welcoming city where everyone should feel safe... We will do everything possible to arrest the individuals responsible for this troubling crime."

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