Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach has rejected a call to sign a resolution condemning a savage beating of five gay men, two of whom have been identified as Fort Carson soldiers, that occurred on the evening of July 3 and has been categorized by the victims as a hate crime.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, 40 people attended a rally at City Hall where local Democrats and leaders of the local LGBT community called out Bach and the City Council to take a harder-line stance against this violent crime and pass a resolution denouncing hate crimes specifically against Colorado Springs LGBT citizens.
El Paso Democratic Party secretary Carolyn Catley spoke at the rally with strong words directed at the city government, the Gazette reports:
It is not one incident that brings us here, it is an incident that has been tolerated for over a decade. It is an incident that has been tolerated by members of our council and our mayor who will not speak out and denounce hate crimes against our citizens.
This rally occurs just days before Colorado Springs's annual PrideFest this Sunday, over which Bach has also received criticism for not signing a proclamation in support of the event, Huffington Post reported earlier.
But the LGBT community in the Springs is still planning to turn out for PrideFest in large numbers despite Bach's hesitancy in both situations. Charles Irwin, executive director of Colorado Springs Pride Center spoke to KWGN about the LGBT community in Colorado Springs:
Most people in this community, despite the stereotype about the Springs, they support equality for all GLBT people. But the mayor missed an opportunity to underscore that.
The two victims who are soldiers have described the attack on the night of July 3, but have kept their true identities a secret because being identified as homosexual could do damage, or potentially end, their military careers, 7News reports. Although one man calling himself "Ted" says most of his military peers already know that he is gay, he still says he needs to protect himself from the military brass finding out about his sexual orientation.
On the night of the attack, the five friends were out celebrating the birthday of one man calling himself "Johnathan." The group had stopped by Albertaco's, a local fast-food restaurant, when a group of African-American males walked in and singled out the gay men because one of them was wearing skimpy shorts from his dancing job at a gay nightclub, according to KWGN.
Jonathan, in a statement to KWGN, said that as his friends were viciously beaten with brass knuckles and kicked in face and ribs, the alleged attackers shouted several derogatory statements:
We felt pretty helpless. They were saying a lot of homosexual slurs like 'faggot' and 'queer' and stuff like that.
7News reports that all-in-all, the men suffered serious injuries: one victim was treated for a facial fracture and had his jaw wired shut, while another had six bruised ribs and one eye that was swollen shut for nearly 10 hours.
Mayor Bach did release a statement to Fox31 stating, "There's no place in our city for violence, discrimination or intolerance. I expect our Police Department will do a thorough investigation and prosecute any offenders to the fullest extent allowed by law."
KWGN reports that anti-gay hate crimes are on the rise nationally, up by 13 percent in the last year alone, according to a recent report by a national coalition of anti-hate groups.
Only one suspect has been arrested, but the investigation is ongoing.