Gay Md. Man Calls Christmas Eve Attack a Hate Crime
A gay man from Baltimore, Md., who was allegedly beaten outside of a liquor store near his home on Christmas Eve, says the assault is a hate crime, the Baltimore Sun reports.
"I was just beaten in my face. Nothing was taken. No words were exchanged before the incident," Kenni Shaw, a 30-year-old hairstylist and cosmetologist, said. "So to me, I think it was a hate crime."
He told the newspaper that the way he looks and his career choices have made him an easy target in his neighborhood and it has created tension among other men in the area. He added he often hears men he doesn’t know, but recognize, mumble anti-gay rhetoric, like "faggots living on the block."
After celebrating Christmas Eve with his family, Shaw stopped by a liquor store near his home around 9 p.m. He said he saw five men leaving the store but didn’t pay much attention to them. On the way home, however, he claims he was punched from behind and for several minutes endured a barrage of punches from different attackers.
"I was pinned down by punches," Shaw said. "It was so hard that I felt my lip and side face swell up immediately. I was trying to talk to these guys, but they weren’t letting me talk."
He said he was conscious during the entire assault and could feel each punch. Finally, someone came out of the store and the attackers ran away. He got himself together and made it to his home to call his mother. Shaw believes the five men he saw exiting the store were his attackers.
"I can’t even describe that moment for me. I thought my world was ending," Sheila Shaw, the alleged victim’s mother told the Sun. "No parent wants to get that phone call. The tone of his voice, I thought, ’He’s strong enough to make the phone call, but I’m probably going to lose my son.’"
Police arrived shortly after the attack and Shaw was taken to the hospital. His face was extremely swollen and his knees and elbows were scraped but doctors said he did not have any fractures.
According to Detective Jeremy Silbert, a Baltimore police spokesman, the authorities are currently investigating the incident and said the have "some good leads in the case" but cannot say if the assault was a hate crime.
Shaw, however, is certain that he was beaten because of his sexual orientation.
"It makes me angry and upset, but at the same time, I am here and I made it through," Shaw said. "I just want to stand and make sure I have a voice, so this doesn’t happen again to a loved one or anyone." He added, "somebody needs to take a stand" and that "hate crimes happen every day." His mother agreed and said that she will support her son "100 percent."
The hairstylist said he is overwhelmed by the amount of support he has received from friends and family. After the attack, Shaw posted a photo of himself on the popular photo sharing website Instagram and says more than 200 people left comments on the image.
"I’m glad I could share my story and people could empathize with the story, because I’m getting a lot of feedback from people who have been through it or who have had family members who have been through it," he said. "I’m glad I could be a spokesman, because a lot of people don’t make it through situations like this."