Detroit police say they’re investigating an attack on a gay Detroit man outside a gay pride festival Sunday as a hate crime.
Christin Howard, 22, told the Detroit Free Press he was trageted by a group of men because he is gay. The attack occurred near Hart Plaza, where the Motor City Pride Festival and Paradel was held for the 43rd year.
Howard, an aspiring hair stylist who goes by Chongleè on social media sites, including instagram, said he stopped to pose for a picture with a girl who recognized him when one of the men called him out, using a slur.
Howard said the man followed him for a distance and continued to harass him, and then was surrounded by at least five other men
“I said, ‘Are y’all going to jump me?’ and I started to get ready to fight.”
A video of the fight, which lasted about a minute, has been posted on YouTube. Howard told the Free Press he suffered a fractured finger, bruises on his face and back, and some damage to his left eye.
After viewing the video, YouTube member Jeanine Wilson commented:
“... I saw him there earlier that day and he looked so happy! I said ‘Wow look at that beautiful man.’ They attacked him out of jealousy and envy coupled with ignorance.
“He was beautiful stylish and he was classy well mannered and just enjoying himself. I am appalled and ashamed for those that participated in such an act. … Those that did this obviously hate themselves enough to jump a man for loving himself!”Another user, who posts as Wizzard Kelly, said it “baffles” than no one intervened to help Howard. He was also disturbed that the attack on Howard, an African-American, was perpetrated by other African-Americans.
“Whoever recorded this is an idiot and deserves what the punks that committed this assault gets as well. What really kills me is how African-Americans black people what ever have the nerve to turn our noses up on another community. Have we really forgotten where we come from? The mis treatment and torment we endured because we looked different, sound different, and had no control over it? Have we forgotten that we were and still are victimized because other's can't understand us? I just cant I really can't. I've said it before and I'll say it again the gay community has to do better we need to stop fighting each other and start protecting one another. How about we start "straight bashing" ok I'm really done now before I get on my Malcolm X stuff
A #JusticeForChongLee hashtag has been established on Twitter for users to Tweet their support for Howard.
“There are some really cruel people in this world,” user@ItsJontaDevon Tweeted. “It’s 2014 and we still gay bash?
Howard said he hopes the social media support will further unite the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities.
“Gays need to stick together when it comes to people bashing us,” he told the Free Press.
Yvonne Sifred, Equality Michigan’s victim service director, said in a statement that “violence directed at LGBT people because they are LGBT is disproportionately high in this country, and LGBT people of color are at an even higher risk of more brutal and vicious attacks.”
“ It never ceases to amaze me that others are so concerned with how we live our lives that they feel emboldened to violently attack us for simply being ourselves,” she said. “Our elected officials can send a powerful message that this type of hate is not tolerated in Michigan by speaking out against attacks like these and amending Michigan’s hate crimes law to include LGBT victims.”
Motor City Pride chair David Wait also said in a statement released by Equality Michigan that organizers of the festival and parade are working with the Detroit Police Department to review and revise safety and security plans for next year’s event.