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June 23, 2008

Gay Bashing In Flagstaff Arizona

Equality Arizona, a GLBT advocacy group here in Arizona, announced in an email today that there was an apparent bias-motivated attack early Sunday morning on several lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. They were standing on a street corner in Flagstaff waiting for cabs following the Pride In The Pines festivities over the weekend.

According to Equality Arizona, "One of the injured, Michel Brown, was with Equality Arizona Public Affairs Director Sam Holdren, Public Affairs Intern Steven Tran and Generation Equality member David Encizo. Tran and Encizo were in the crowd when the attacks began, but were not physically injured. Holdren was steps away, returning to the scene to find Brown lying unconscious and bleeding."

Ironically, at the beginning of the event newly-elected Flagstaff Mayor Sara Presler-Hoefle had issued a proclamation, declaring that day to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Day in the city of Flagstaff calling "upon all city residents, employees and volunteers to participate in the spirit and activities of this day."

Equality Arizona Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones issued the following statement today:

"The news of this attack is deeply disturbing. On a day when all of Flagstaff should have been celebrating and embracing diversity, this brutal attack has reminded us all that there is still much work to be done to prevent anti-gay bias from escalating into violence.

"We are grateful for the immediate and efficient response of the Flagstaff Police Department and emergency responders. Along with the hospital staff, these professionals demonstrated great respect for the victims during this traumatic time.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand with them and the Flagstaff community in calling for justice in this case. Equality Arizona will continue to partner with city leaders to create an environment where everyone who visits, lives or works in Flagstaff is safe and free from bias and discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."

As I said in a previous post, the more our cause advances, the more frustrated the right wing zealots become - even in the more gay-tolerant cities like Flagstaff. They're losing and they know it. Of course we aren't going to go back into the closet but we still have to be aware of our surroundings and at least have a rough idea of what we'll do if confronted. I repeat what I said earlier though, there is no reason to be paranoid about it - just sensibly cautious. The likely hood of something happening to you is still pretty small.