Youth Arrest Made in Cleveland Bar Attack
Cleveland police have arrested a teenager in connection with a Labor Day weekend attack at a gay bar, but he will likely not face a hate-crime charge because Ohio law does not cover crimes based on sexual orientation.
The youth, whose name was not released because he is under 18, was charged this week with suspected robbery in connection with the September 1 assault on Jared Fox, 28, Cleveland’s Plain Dealer reports.
According to a Sept. 17 article in the Plain Dealer, Police Chief Michael McGrath said in a press release that First District officers arrested a 17-year-old boy "without incident" on a robbery and felonious assault warrant. Police say the boy played a role in the Sept. 1 beating and robbery of Jared Fox.
Fox was on his way into Cocktails, an LGBT-friendly bar, at about 12:15 a.m., when a group of boys swarmed around him, wrestled him to the ground and assaulted him as they hurled anti-gay slurs. They beat him and stole his wallet and cell phone.
Police also recently arrested a 13-year-old in connection with another incident at Cocktails, as reported in The Advocate. On the evening of September 6, several young boys threw rocks onto the bar’s back patio, using anti-gay slurs while doing so.
Police say a bartender was the initial target of the attack. Customers of the bar, which is frequented by members of the LGBT community, then chased the group away.
But the kids returned a short time later with sticks and a broom, according to police, and again threatened the bartender with anti-gay slurs.
After the group left the area again, employees at the bar contacted police, who were able to locate a suspect at West 87th Street and Detroit Avenue based on identification by one of the victims. The 13-year-old was arrested the same night, according to a Sept. 9 article in the Plain Dealer.
Bar manager James Foster told the Plain Dealer he hopes police will soon arrest others involved in both attacks.
Ohio’s hate-crimes law allows enhanced charges only on crimes committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin. But judges are able to consider other factors, including whether the crime was motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, in sentencing, a prosecutor told the Plain Dealer.
A Cleveland city ordinance allows for hate-crime enhancement on crimes based on sexual orientation, but it applies only to misdemeanors, and the charge against the youth is a felony.
Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/