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|Recent local ‘hate crimes’ show danger of incomplete information|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|October 26, 2012 00:00|
When two lesbians told a local TV station they were attacked over Atlanta Pride weekend because they were gay, people reacted with shock and empathy.
How could something so awful happen in Atlanta, much less during Pride weekend?
But when the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department released its report on the incident that happened at about 3:30 a.m. Oct. 13 in front of the W Hotel in Midtown, it raised questions about whether the two women told the whole story when they spoke to Fox 5 reporter Kaitlyn Pratt before the report was released.
Lesbian couple Kathryn Katalinich and Brooke Creef told Fox 5 they were called an anti-gay slur and pushed to the ground by men who also laughed at them.
“It’s just ridiculous there is so much hate,” a tearful Katalinch told Fox 5 in a report that was broadcast Oct. 13 and posted to the Fox 5 website Oct. 14.
The couple told Fox 5 that “words were exchanged” with two men as they were getting into a cab. Creef said she was pushed to the ground and then Katalinich was also pushed to the ground and her knees were scraped.
The news report did not include any information from police, just the words of the women who said what happened to them was a hate crime. Pratt did not discuss what a hate crime is but stressed the angle that the crime coincided with the gayest weekend in Atlanta.
Lesbians started altercation
On Oct. 15, however, the Fulton County Sheriff Deputy who was working a secondary job as security at the W Hotel finished the report on the incident and it was released to the public.
The report stated the lesbian couple was intoxicated and instigated the fight by calling an Asian woman a “stripper” among other things. After the lesbians called the Asian woman a stripper, she and her two black male friends retorted by calling Katalinich and Creef “dykes,” the report stated.
The Fulton County sheriff’s deputy, B. Pride, was working at the hotel when he was asked for assistance to break up a fight on the outdoor patio, according to the report. Some involved in the incident had fled the scene but the deputy interviewed the two women, Katalinich and Creef, both of Atlanta, who said they were beaten up.
“Ms. Creef stated stated to me that the incident started as a result of her directing several comments towards the Asian female, during which she referred to her as a ‘stripper’ and made negative comments about the way she was dressed,” according to the report.
“The Asian female uttered, ‘You look like a dike (sic).’ Both parties then engaged in a verbal confrontation yelling various negative epithets at each other. Ms. Creef alleged that Ms. Katalalinich approached the opposing party at which point one of the males pushed her down to the ground,” the report states.
The report further states Katalinich and Creef “appeared to be moderately intoxicated.” Both said they had been drinking at a party at the hotel, according to the report.
Emails to the Fox 5 reporter Kaitlyn Pratt were not returned for comment. Attempts to reach Katalinich by phone and email were also unsuccessful.
“From news reports, it sounds like these women may have been victims of batteries. The obvious problem with calling yourself the victim of a crime, though, if you are the one who started it, is that you weren’t targeted due to your ‘suspect class,’ in this case your homosexuality,” said Atlanta gay attorney Christine Koehler.
“If news reports are correct, you drew attention to yourself when you referred to a woman as a stripper based on her attire. It is unfortunate that a verbal altercation would disintegrate in to name calling such as ‘dyke,’” Koehler added.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department has turned over the case to the Atlanta Police Department.
“This is not being viewed as a bias crime, at present, by APD,” said spokesperson Carlos Campos. “The report from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office seemed to indicate there was an exchange of words between two parties that led to an altercation.
“The information we were provided from the report indicates that the altercation did not seem to result from the sexual orientation of the complainants. We have spoken with the complainants,” Campos said. “We are not investigating the incident further.”
Atlantic Station incident still in question
The Atlanta Pride incident follows another alleged gay bashing that occurred in Atlantic Station on Aug. 4. In that incident, John Mark Parker of Decatur was on the way to a party being thrown by LGBT magazine Fenuxe when he said he was punched in the face by a man after the man asked if he was gay and he answered yes.
But since Aug. 4, Atlanta police have been unable to reach Parker to follow up on the incident — Parker has not returned phone calls, emails and not been available when visits were made to his home, according to an investigator with the APD’s internal affairs department.
Alarming the community by reporting a hate crime but then not following through — or worse, calling yourself the victim of a crime when you started the whole altercation — is the “boy who cried wolf scenario.”
“It has the potential to diminish real, valid claims made by true victims of hate crimes,” Koehler said.
Top photo: Kathryn Katalinich (left) and her girlfriend, Brooke Creef, said they were attacked in a hate crime over Atlanta Pride weekend. A police report, however, suggests the couple instigated the fight. (Scheenshot via Fox 5)
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