Hate crimes keep on happening

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Joshua EsskewTwo brutal beatings occurred in April, proving that anti-LGBT hate crimes are not on spring break. On April 9, 19-year-old Joshua Esskew stopped at a convenience store in Rock Hill, South Carolina, near the campus of Winthrop University. On his way to the door, a young man who was apparently “hanging out” called Esskew a gay slur, the specific nature of which has not been reported. Esskew turned and asked, “What did you say?” Receiving no reply, Esskew turned again toward the door and was struck on the head with a 40 oz. beer bottle. 

As soon as Esskew fell to the ground, at least eight other men converged and began kicking and beating him. The entire assault was recorded on the store’s security camera and can be seen on YouTube.

“Me being me was what I believe set it off,” said Esskew. “I believe justice does need to be served. I don’t have any hate in my heart toward any of those guys. I just wish they would realize how good of a person they did this too.” Esskew suffered brain trauma as well as multiple lacerations and burst blood vessels in one eye.

Lt. Mike Baker of the York County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Office stated that at least two of the perpetrators can be clearly seen on the videotape. “It was very violent, very vicious and very, very serious. We want to investigate and prosecute as such.”

The passage of the Matthew Shepard Act two years ago provides a basis for federal investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and FBI spokesman Earl Burns stated, “We’re all over it [the Esskew Case]. Matters of this sort –hate, civil rights–are one of our highest priorities at the Bureau.”

Later that month, on April 18, 22-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis was attacked by two teenage girls at a McDonald’s in Baltimore County, Maryland, apparently for being a male-to-female transperson attempting to use the women’s bathroom. The lengthy beating, which involved dragging Polis by her hair and leaving her in what seems to be a state of convulsions, was recorded on a cell phone camera by a bystander and can be seen in full on the web.

The following Monday more than 200 people gathered outside the McDonald’s to show support for Polis and to embrace Vicki Thoms, a witness to the beating who intervened in an effort to protect Polis and was herself punched in the face. Asked if she knew Polis was biologically male, Thoms replied, “No, I didn’t, and I don’t care.” Two teenage females have been arrested in the incident.

Joshua EsskewTwo brutal beatings occurred in April, proving that anti-LGBT hate crimes are not on spring break. On April 9, 19-year-old Joshua Esskew stopped at a convenience store in Rock Hill, South Carolina, near the campus of Winthrop University. On his way to the door, a young man who was apparently “hanging out” called Esskew a gay slur, the specific nature of which has not been reported. Esskew turned and asked, “What did you say?” Receiving no reply, Esskew turned again toward the door and was struck on the head with a 40 oz. beer bottle.