Friday, December 19, 2014

Mark Segal: Unanswered questions in beating of gay couple

Why has no one been charged? Did 'hate speech' drive the attackers?

One of the two victims suffered severe facial injuries, including a fractured orbital bone, and his jaw will be wired shut for months.
One of the two victims suffered severe facial injuries, including a fractured orbital bone, and his jaw will be wired shut for months. CARYN KUNKLE

It's been a week since two gay men walking down a Center City street holding hands were asked if they were boyfriends. When they answered "yes," they were beaten by a gang of thugs.

As many as 12 people are believed to have participated in the beatings. During the attack, the gang purportedly screamed "faggot" as they punched and kicked the two victims. The two injured men were taken to the hospital by police and an investigation began.

The police found surveillance video of a group of people, the suspected perpetrators, walking down a street. Soon people involved in social media got into the act, and that led to some clues, which in turned led to mainstream media teaming up with social media.

It is a partnership that seems to have worked better and faster than the police investigation, since one has to ask: If you have the alleged pictures of those involved and know their names and addresses, why has no one been charged?

The ridiculous answer is that they might have been drunk and no one is sure who was at fault. That is not an excuse. There is a tape of a woman yelling, "Stop." She obviously was yelling at someone to stop. Has anyone asked her who? And if she won't say, is she not obstructing justice?

Kenneth A. Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, released a statement Wednesday in response to reports that former students at Archbishop Wood High School may have been involved in the attack.

"This afternoon, administrators communicated with the entire Archbishop Wood school community to make it emphatically clear that the school does not, under any circumstances, tolerate or condone the violent and hateful behavior displayed by those who took part in this senseless attack," Gavin said.

"The actions of those who took part in the attack are reprehensible and entirely unacceptable. They are not an accurate reflection of our Catholic values or of Archbishop Wood High School." Gavin said.

One of the people reportedly linked to the attack has resigned from his position as an assistant basketball coach at Wood. Gavin said the man was not a teacher but worked under a contract.

Why is the Archdiocese acting so quickly? Do they know something that we do not? And let us not forget that Archbishop Chaput has continually used what I consider hate speech against gay marriage. Was teaching hate an influencing factor?  

Attacks based on sexual orientation are not considered hate crimes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The accused, when and if arrested, may face other charges.

Local elected officials are getting into the act. One is calling for a federal investigation. Another has suggested further violence against those suspected of the crime. Violence is never the answer. Prosecution is. Justice is.

At the end of this week this is what we know. The citizens of the Philadelphia region were so outraged by this vicious attack that they acted through social media to assist in finding the culprits. The LGBT community has showed incredible restraint.

Now is the time for police to charge the individuals involved, the District Attorney to prosecute, the archdiocese to modify its teachings, and for the state Legislature to act to cover attacks based on sexual orientation to be included under the Hate Crimes act.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter @PhilaGayNews.

Mark Segal for Philly.com
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