UPDATE: Covington Police Chief Col. Lee Russo told the Huffington Post that his force is investigating the homophobic flyers, but they do not yet have any information about who is behind them or whether the National Alliance is involved. He said that multiple flyers had been found posted on telephone poles, light poles, and the windshields of vehicles; there's no indication that the vehicles were targeted in any specific way.
One particularly violent attack that has become a catalyst for greater awareness occurred at 1:00 a.m. on Aug. 15, when a group of men and women, both gay and straight, were attacked by four people, including a man with Swastika tattoos and Aryan Nation symbols all over his body. On Wednesday, one of the victims of the incident spoke with the Huffington Post and described what happened. She has asked that her identity be kept private. From the interview:
A group of nine of us together, mixed heterosexual and homosexual, were walking down the street. We turn the corner, and there were four people parked in a car, and they pulled the car up really fast and almost hit two of us. One of the women was like, "Stop, don't hit us," and then the four people in the car started yelling hate slurs like, "F*cking d*kes, f*cking f*ggots, go eat some p*ssy f*cking f*ggots."
Two women got out of the car and approached one of my friends. The two men got out of the car and chased the other girl. They chased her around the corner, and when they got around the corner, the first person they saw was another one in our group, and one of the guys grabbed her by the hair, slammed her face into the wall of the building, started punching her on the ground. The other guy started kicking her. The first guy went and punched another person, and then that's where I came around the corner and kind of just jumped on top of the girl being kicked, and got kicked.
I had a bottle of wine in my hand that I swung at him and broke on his chest, and he started to back off, and people started to come help us -- random bystanders -- and that's when the guy, Devlin Burke, pulled out a knife and he stabbed three people. One guy got stabbed across the stomach and had 23 stitches. One guy was 16 years old.
Burke has a history of hate crimes, pleading guilty in 2003 to beating a man, who claimed that Burke and the other attackers were "yelling out racial slurs and telling me that they should kill me." They were also using baseball bats reading, "Imperial Klans of America."
The Covington victim told the Huffington Post that the response from the city government has been "amazing." The city is one of only three in Kentucky that has a human rights ordinance protecting sexual orientation. On Tuesday, the Covington City Commission and approximately 80 people gathered at city hall and passed a resolution reaffirming the 2003 ordinance.
Other recent incidents have involved police treatment and targeting of gay men and women, and the police force has promised to not only "possibly add more training" for officers but also step up patrols in certain areas.
Several Covington residents, including the victim who spoke with the Huffington Post, have organized a campaign for greater awareness. The Facebook page has almost 1,300 members, and on Saturday, there will be a "Night Out" to raise money for an Anti-Hate Campaign. The event is supported by the Covington Police Department, and the intent is to "reclaim...the streets where the attacks have happened."
Anti-gay forces are also responding. The Huffington Post received a copy of a flyer being posted around town, bemoaning "the local media and political prostitutes in Covington pandering to the moral degenerates among us." It's unclear who is behind the flyer, although the bottom of the message promotes the neo-Nazi National Alliance. View it here.
The Huffington Post contacted Kentucky's federal politicians and candidates, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), Rep. Geoff Davis (R), and Senate candidates Rand Paul (R) and Jack Conway (D). None of them returned our request for comment on the incident. McConnell and Davis have both voted against hate crimes legislation protecting sexual orientation in the past.