Updated after the jump: West Hollywood Mayor John Duran pretends nothing is wrong.
Originally posted October 26 at 11 a.m.
A recent string of violent attacks on gay men in West Hollywood has L.A.'s Boystown whispering "hate crime."
Though they've gotten no love from major media outlets, three men who claim to have been beaten in the streets of WeHo between October 19 and October 22 feel they were targeted based on their sexual
Gayborhood blog WeHo Confidential has their stories:
First, on the night of Tuesday the 18th, clubgoer Billy Mandrick says he was "brutally attacked and robbed" after a night out at Mother Lode. According to Mandrick, his assailant approached him near Santa Monica Boulevard and Robertson -- right at the crux of the WeHo bar scene -- and yelled, "Hey faggot, what are you doing out here so late?" (Though the answer to that seems fairly obvious.) From WeHo Confidential:
Billy tried to ignore the man and headed for the corner to cross the street. The man came closer, asking him where he was going and why he was out, repeatedly calling him a "fucking faggot". Billy began backing away from the man, apologizing for offending him.
At that point the hater sucker punched Billy in the face, leaving a nasty bruise next to his eye, and continued with two or three more punches until Billy fell down at the curb. The attacker kicked Billy in the chest once and then Billy heard a second man say, "Thats enough, leave the fuckin' queen alone, let's go." The attacker grabbed Billy's cell phone and wallet and vanished.
The victim describes his basher as a six-foot-tall white man with a shaved head, around 180 pounds, wearing a dark polo shirt and jeans.
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Just the next night, on Wednesday, October 19, Kasey Mahaffy describes an even more terrifying scene involving a similar-looking attacker (same height, same weight, light eyes, shaved blonde hair, late 20s, "wearing a black hoodie and cream plaid shorts"). The incident occurred about a mile and a half northwest, at Fountain and Laurel. He says he was leaving his local corner store around 7:15 p.m. with "some beer and some snacks" when a blue Nissan Versa pulled into a small driveway in front of him, blocking his path home.
At that point, Mahaffy says four "Abercrombie-clad frat boys" got out of the car and started hassling him about his groceries, but soon sped off.
However, just as he was about to arrive at his house:
then i noticed a guy walking towards me on the sidewalk - normal weho looking dude - in a black hoodie and cream plaid shorts. as he approached me i made eye contact, as i often do. he ripped back his hood, screamed something unintelligible, and punched me in the throat. 3 times. so much so that i landed in the middle of traffic on fountain ave. long story short i ended up inexplicable bent over a civilian's car, getting the shit beat out of me by a complete stranger. he hit my chest, my head, my ear, my cheek, my jaw. and since my arms were full of groceries, they were occupied and i couldn't defend myself. during the assault i kept thinking to myself all these ironic thoughts like , "oh my god. i can't believe this is happening. i'm a fucking HATE CRIME VICTIM?! no fucking way. not my story."
but then i came to and he had run off. gotten about 13 punches in. my groceries peppering fountain ave and my bottle of wine smashed on the hood of some innocent old corolla. "are you alright?" the driver asked. i picked up my groceries on the street. said yes, and that i think i was just assaulted. everyone nodded and sped off to wherever they were headed, and i was left alone.
Most disconcertingly, Mahaffy claims sheriff's deputies from the West Hollywood station acted "insensitive -- cavalier even" and told him there was "nothing they could do," despite his detailed suspect and vehicle descriptions.
The final recorded attack went down on October 22, according to WeHo Confidential. Micky's employee Kyan Loredo says he was jumped about 7 p.m. after a voice behind him said, "Don't turn around." The details:
Thinking a friend was playing a joke Kyan turned around and was immediately bashed over the head with the barrel of a gun. The attacker robbed Kyan of his phone and his cash ($1) and vanished, leaving Kyan scared, in shock and in tears.
The guy with the gun is described as a five-foor-10-inch black man with cornrows, a hoodie and dark pants. There's no direct evidence the attack was related to the fact Loredo is gay -- and it technically occurred on the Los Angeles side of the street, in LAPD territory -- but its proximity in time and place to the October 19 beating is enough to raise a red flag.
Like Mahaffy, Loredo says the LAPD officer who took down his report acted "cavalier and indifferent, laughing, joking and distracted from the urgent situation."
We're contacting the WeHo sheriff and LAPD Hollywood Division for comment.
Update: CBS2 picked up on two of the gay-bashing reports last night.
West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, in a shocking (and ass-covering) attempt to maintain his city's glittery, happy-go-lucky veneer, told CBS2 reporters that sheriff's officials "hesitate right now to call these incidents hate crimes, officially."
Instead of offering his support or showing concern, Duran downplayed the disconcerting spike in violence -- even seemed to use the opportunity to brag about the town's thriving economy.
"In West Hollywood, actually, hate crimes are down for the year. So we're not treating this as a spike or anything out of the ordinary," he said. And later: "We live in a city renowned for its nightlife. When it's nighttime, you have to be careful."
Uh. Thanks, mom. But these really didn't sound like your average bar brawls.
Patrick Range McDonald, the award-winning LA Weekly reporter behind some of the most hard-hitting journalism ever to hit West Hollywood, says he's appalled by Duran's demeanor:
"In other words, he's more concerned about media coverage making WeHo looking unsafe because it may hurt nightlife business. It's incredible. He sounded like an insensitive straight politician who has no clue -- the kind of person he would have protested back in the '80s when he was an activist."
On NBC4, which also picked up the story, Duran added, "This is what happens when people try to do investigations through social media. They know somebody who knows somebody and before you know it, they say it's a rash of gay beatings going on. It's not true."
Thus rounding out this utterly clueless performance from a guy we honestly expected more out of. (More, at least, than notoriously out-of-touch dictator John Heilman, who preceded Duran.)
Mayor dearest: Just because you don't know how to use Twitter, doesn't mean it's the root of all lies. We're perfectly aware of the wildfire dangers of social media, but in a case like this, we have three very real people who were mugged and beaten in the same small hood in a matter of days. Social media has only made the community more aware of their suffering -- a lot more than we can say for local government and law enforcement.
And by the way. WeHo Confidential, the blog who initially aired the bashings, is run by Lucas John, a candidate in the last West Hollywood City Council election. Thanks, Lucas, for utilizing 21st-century tools to give your would-be constituents a voice and a sense of safety, despite the fact that the incumbency machine got the better of you last March.
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Here's the latest from WeHo Confidential:
In an interview with Frontiers LA, a gay blog which deletes comments on their site that conflict with the editors hidden agendas, Sgt. Frambles claimed that there was "no evidence of gay bashing in either case" in the attacks reported by our website.
Yesterday afternoon Mayor John Duran allegedly held an emergency/secret meeting with bar owners & the Weho Sheriff's Dept. to implement "damage mitigation" only to be greeted by camera crews when the secret meeting adjourned.
Socially mediate this, Duran.