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|[Video] Victim of anti-gay bashing says he wants justice, labels attackers 'monsters'|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Wednesday, 08 February 2012 15:42|
Brandon White, 20, who is openly gay, said he wants justice for the brutal attack he endured at the hands of gang members while walking out of a convenience store in southwest Atlanta. The men called him "faggot" over and over and posted video of the attack online.
At a packed press conference, White, standing at about 5 feet tall and surrounded by supporters and organizers, said he at first didn't report the incident to police because the video of his beating by gang members was “embarrassing and humiliating.”
But, he added, he hopes by speaking out – to the police and the public — he can help other gay people stay safe.
“I feel that I was very violated,” White said. “I thought that … if a straight person could walk to the store and not have a problem I should be able to do the same thing. I shouldn't have to worry about whether or not I should have to look over my shoulder or if this person is going to attack me or that person is going attack me for just being a gay male.
“I could have died that day. They're monsters,” he added.
Mayor Kasim Reed put up a $10,000 reward through Crime Stoppers today for anyone who leads to the arrests of the assailants, doubling it from a $5,000 award he announced yesterday. Atlanta City Councilmember Cleta Wilson said today she was appalled by the attack and she is donating $1,000 of her personal money to the total Crime Stoppers amount.
White said that because the gang members decided to upload the video to WorldStarHipHop.com early this week, where it was picked up by The Smoking Gun and went viral, he felt it was his responsibility to share his story. The undated video was posted with the headline, "Dead Wrong: Man Wearing Skinny Jeans Gets Sucker Attacked & G'z Throw a Tire On Him for Being Gay."
“Jack City, no faggots,” a man says at the start of the video. “Jack City” is an apparent reference to a street gang.
“By them going public, I feel they wanted the attention,” White said.
He said the gang members apparently wanted to show how “brave” they were in a three-against-one attack. He also said he has seen the video of his attack and described it as “very, very brutal.”
“In my opinion, I'm the brave one,” he said to applause.
White said he did not know he was being videotaped when he was attacked leaving the convenience store on McDaniel Street in the Pittsburgh community. The store is a well-known haven for crime, according to White as well as other residents of the neighborhood. A push is being made to shut it down.
White said he heard them shouting “faggot” at him repeatedly but did not know any of his assailants.
“I want justice served,” he said.
White said he's lived in the Pittsburgh neighborhood for about eight months but never felt threatened in the community until the day he was attacked. Atlanta police, who have interviewed White, said the attack occurred Saturday, Feb. 4.
The APD and the U.S. Attorney are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime. Because Georgia is one of five states without a state hate crime law, the attackers would have to be prosecuted under the federal statute, the Byrd-Shepherd Hate Crimes Act. Some activists are urging lawmakers to see this attack as a need to call for Georgia to pass a state hate crimes law.
White said he would like to see the men who attacked him prosecuted under the federal statute.
“They said it themselves,” he said of their anti-gay slurs.
For other LGBT people who have been attacked for who they are, White said it is important to talk to someone about what happened.
“Say something. Speak to someone. Don't hide yourselves,” he said.
A rally in the Pittsburgh community at the site of the attack is planned for Saturday.
Anyone with information on incident is asked to call Zone 3 police officers at 404-624-0674 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477.
Top photo: Brandon White, victim of an anti-gay assault in southwest Atlanta, addresses the media (by Ryan Watkins)
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