Portland Assaults on Gay Men Reported over Memorial Day Weekend
In Portland, Oregon over the Memorial Day weekend, a group of gay men were allegedly harassed and assaulted by a group of young men yelling anti-gay slurs in the early hours of Sunday.
Rumors of other attacks on members of the queer community that same weekend are circulating but, according to Portland Police spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat, only one incident has been reported. The report for Sunday’s incident cannot be released due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, per ORS 192.501 (3). Police also cannot release the names of the individuals involved because the incident is being investigated as a bias crime, in which the identity of the alleged victims is protected until the case is resolved.
Wheat, who is openly gay, said that these crimes are taken very seriously.
Portland Bias Crimes Detectives say that an investigation is ongoing.
Police say all attacks, including verbal, should be reported to law enforcement, and that anyone who may have witnessed Sunday morning’s attacks call 503-823-0457. Anonymous tips will be accepted.
Although Just Out is waiting to receive confirmation from Portland Police on the details of the incident, two of the alleged victims and one witness shared their account of what happened Sunday.
Nefertiti Ay, 43, has requested he be identified only by his drag name until police finish their investigation. He maintains that he and four friends had just rounded the corner of SW 10thand Stark between 1:30 and 2 a.m. when they saw a group of young white men in their late teens or early 20s flanking the sidewalk ahead of them.
The young men began shouting insults such as “faggot” and “I hope you die from AIDS,” Ay says.
In an attempt to scare the youth off, Ay says he walked up to one of them and said, “Fuck off and get out of here. Leave us alone.” He says two or three of the men responded by punching him in the jaw, at which point, “it became a car-crash blur.”
He did not fight back, but his partner stepped in to try to pull the men off. The attack escalated at that point.
The alleged assailants subsequently fled the scene.
Law enforcement officials in the area came by on foot after hearing the scuffle to see what was going on. No police report was filed at the time, but Ay filed one on Monday morning.
Community response to news of the attacks has been swift, and word has also spread via Facebook. A town hall meeting at Red Cap was held on Sunday night, followed by plans for future meetings elsewhere in the community.
Wednesday, June 2, Q Center held a gay bashing discussion forum, hosted by Stephen Casssell of Cassell Communications and Just Out columnist Daniel Borgenfrom , from 7 to 9 p.m. with community members, LGBTQ leaders and members of city and local government, including representatives from the Oregon Department of Justice and The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office in attendance.