BREAKING: Anti-Gay Hate Crime Reported on Hawthorne Bridge

Comments

2
I don't see anything in this report indicating that this was an anti-gay hate crime; not all gay victims of crime are the victims because they're gay.

This isn't to say that it wasn't a bias-based crime, but a certain burden of proof must be met before we go around making these accusations.

And one last thing to Smirk, you might want to actually link to the PPB's Public Information Office: http://www.portlandonline.com/police/pbnot… You know, that whole providing evidence thing again.
3
To the bystanders' defenses, I doubt it was totally evident that this was a hate crime, plus if I was there and yelled "stop" to three meatheads as they were beating up some people, I would expect those meatheads to then beat me up.
4
Can you guys do a quick search for "sympathy" on eBay, buy some, and then drop back in? Thanks.
5
Sure doesn't sound like a mugging, or any other type of crime, dickhead.
6
But what would stop you from calling 9-1-1 or noting what the attackers looked like or in ANY way helping?

Indifference, as far as I'm concerned, is just as evil as these douchekits who attacked the two guys.
7
@eldepeche: So any time there's violence not precipitated by an attempt to rob a person, it's a bias-based crime? There is nothing in the information provided to actually indicate that this was a biased-based crime. Is it too much to ask for proof or evidence? Apparently.

@Steve: I have tons of sympathy for the actual victims. My problem is with slipshod reporting. For an example of someone not just cutting and pasting from the PPB's press release, please see this: http://qpdx.com/2011/05/two-gay-men-assaul…
8
Yeah, I'd def call 9-1-1. I'm sympathetic! But watching people get beat up is frightening and intense and confusing. I don't think it's fair to 1) refer to non-action by bystanders as "indifference" (since you're presuming a lot) and 2) to call non-action "evil"... if I was walking down the street, and saw people fighting, my first assumption would be "there is context to this fight; there's a reason they're fighting; I'm not 100% sure who the aggressors are.
9
@ROM: Usually, when someone mentions the "inaction of bystanders" they're playing into your supposed feelings of collective guilt (a la Kitty Genovese and Martin Niemoller). I agree with you on seeing random violence, it's not my place to get directly involved. Calling 911, sure; but trying to break up a fight is a good way to get beat up yourself. Especially when there's eight people involved in the altercation.
10
ROM:
1) You're right... true indifference would have been the bystanders walking away. Instead, they stayed and watched, not helping or doing *anything*... being fascinated or otherwise entertained. (I use entertainment loosely, the way one would with rubberneckers in a car accident situation)

2) I clearly stated it as my opinion I consider it evil for someone to take non-action when people are getting blatantly harassed/hurt/beaten. Choosing not to call the police or in any way help the people who are obviously the victims in a situation is by no means "good". Context becomes secondary when people are being harmed by a group outnumbering them.
11
"Indifference, as far as I'm concerned, is just as evil as these douchekits who attacked the two guys. "

Says the poster on the INTERNET making a difference worldwide!!1
12
ROM and Graham, so actually if you knew it was a gay bashing you wouldn´t do a thing cuz of fear of getting beat up is practically what your saying? Or that your senses can´t discern between a fight and a beatdown, or both?

Inaction of by-standers may be simply the non-action to report that to the authorities as it is happening, and it`s a civil responsibility. If your childish enough to plant that
Responsibility as "guilt" your`re totally wrong. This taking in consideration my previous sentence.
13
@Graham: No, I think any time a gay couple is followed for 15 minutes by three guys they don't know who then attack them and don't take anything, a bias crime is pretty goddamn likely. It's either a hate crime or one of the many follow-a-couple-young-men-and-them-beat-them-up-for-fun attacks that occurs every day.
14
Graham- I'm sure those guys had a PERFECTLY good reason for attacking two gay men in public and then fleeing the police! Maybe they were having a really crumby day! Maybe it was just a complex social experiment! There's no way of knowing. The important thing here is that we not jump to an hasty conclusions about the guys who ATTACKED TWO PEOPLE AND THEN FLED THE POLICE.

Ryan- You make a good point about how confusing a situation like that is, and not wanting to get involved. But if you witnessed a car accident where people were injured but it wasn't clear who had hit who, I imagine you'd call the police anyway and have them sort it out.
15
What is your interest against disproving a bias crime allegation, Graham? I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. it is a radical thing to be perceived as gay, regardless of what anyone says in polls. All it takes is a few meathead jerks. I bet some of you didn't know anyone who voted for George W either, yet he got elected twice.

16
ROM = Good German: excuses, excuses excuses

People have an affirmative obligation to help those in danger. This isn't Seinfeld; we're not animals


@smirk Why do the hate crimes stats from the FBI differ from the PPB? Shouldn't they be the same?

Hate Crime Incidents—Bias motivation, sexual orientation
2009: 15 (http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2009/data/table_…)
2008: 23 (http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2008/data/table_…)
2007: 22 (http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2007/table_13or.…)
2006: 9 (http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2006/table13or.h…)
2005: 20 (http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2005/table13oreg…)


@WSH YOU'RE A LIVING HATE CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY! SHUT UP!
17
@eldepeche: According to Brad Forkner, there were five or six assailants; not three. Smirk's reporting on this incident is missing a lot of details. Is it wrong to ask for some sort of evidence or proof rather than making assumption based on our preconeived notions? I am not saying that I don't think it could have been a bias-based crime, just that there's nothing at this time actually showing that it was.

@atomic: How often do people start fights and then stick around for the police to show up? The general guilt of of these five or six people for committing violence is not what I'm having questions about, my questions are in regards to what makes this a bias-based crime.

@leaky: You're intentionally misconstruing what ROM and I have said. We've both said that we'd call 911, but getting physically involved in a fight is not something we'd be willing to do.

@Steve: I found this stamp on eBay. I don't think it really conveys my sympathy very well: http://cgi.ebay.com/60-00421-Sympathy-Rubb…
18
@seanpdx: My motivation isn't to disprove a bias-based crime allegation; but rather to see that allegation buoyed by evidence and proof. This has some of the hallmarks of the standard gay-bashing, but nothing that's been presented actually indicates this to be true(e.g. there are no allegations of anti-gay slurs being used). The only proof offered that this is a bias-based crime is that the victims are gay, which isn't enough to prove anything.
19
@Super Chundy - Hmm... I'm not sure exactly why the Portland Police stats would be different from the state and FBI's. I'd assume that the police investigate different hate crimes than ones that wind up reported to the state. I'll ask.
20
There seems to be two straw men present here:

1) No, ROM and Graham aren't complete douchebags: they WOULD call the police, but they don't want to get beat up b/c they're weaklings.

2) Everyone else is NOT advocating breaking up the assault by physically intervening; they are advocating that people do something other than merely calling the police.

If a group of bystanders is watching a fight or an assault in progress, they need to recognize the power of their numbers and either stop the incident by force or at least, communicate to the douchebags that you're calling the police.

Also with the prevalence of camera phones, the very least you could do is snap a couple of pics!


But we can ALL AGREE that if any blogtown regulars see ROM or Graham getting beat down, none of us will come to their aid. They're on their own. If they're lucky, we might call 911. But probably not...
21
I just love it when Graham has to spend an afternoon defending the dumb shit that he says while trying to convince other bloggers that he's the smart one. You make me feel brilliant, putz.
22
"[I]t's not my place to get directly involved."--Graham

There's no law that says you have to get directly involved. But you should immediately call 911, and if there's anything else you can do to try to stop the assault, wouldn't you? Yell from some distance away that you're calling the cops? Gather other passersby? I would try to do something. Maybe you wouldn't bother.

My uncle once stopped a guy from stabbing a woman to death in downtown Seattle, at some real personal risk. I like to think I'd at least try to do something if I could.
23
Having been raised in redneck/alcoholic environs, I've casually observed for years here in Portland a noticeable shortage of public fights, in bars or otherwise. I wonder if as a result, people just can't distinguish between a douche-bag scrap and a way more pointless and imbalanced pummeling. Maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe (in practice) Portland is too apathetic and effete. Do people really need an academic symposium deconstructing and clarifying the various manifestations of violent modalities before they think about maybe taking action?

C'mon, people. Do something.

Also, well said, Atomic.
24
@SC: Your segue from decrying straw min into making an ad hominem was expertly done. You're saying that when I say I'd call 911 it's different from when other people say they'd call 911. My unwillingness to interject myself into a brawl between seven to eight people does not indicate a lack of civic responsability, it indicates that I'm not a fucking idiot.

I don't understand why Smirk continues to hate to link to her actual sources, but it's becoming a source of journalistic laziness for the Mercury. Link to Mayor Sam Adam's statement on the topic: http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/index.…
25
Graham, again, a Fight, is different from a Beat Down. That you must recognize.

Why do I say this? Cuz I know the urgency of calling 911, which may as well be as fast as pressing an Iphone or an Android app, varies between the 2 scenarios am placing here. A fight between 3 drunks, who the hell might care, it may be over in 2 min. With a few bruises.

A Gay-Bashing carries more implications. If the offenders get caught, it may stop future non-sense acts of this nature. To play aloof, or not take the seriousness this issue involves, it`s disgusting.

Either way, it was described as a beat down, not a fight, and that´s serious. Calling 911 IS getting involved, there my point of your stance leaving a bad taste because of you not wanting to really get involved nor help. A 911 call might take the cops to the place the crime is occurring, of course, but that´s it. The "occurrence" might be over by then. If one gets involved, these "acts" may drop down, you get what am saying? But your free to do as you will.

Or to place it more simply, just calling 911 and to keep on walking along, minding your own business due to the nature of this situation, is not an adult response, nor a civic one.
26
@Leaky: So you're advocating for people to physically interject themselves into "beat downs"? That's stupid. Then there would most likely be three victims instead of just two. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to call 911 and stay on the line giving descriptions of everyone involved until the police arrive, and then to provide a statement to the police.
27
Crowds of people typically won't respond to a scene. It's called diffusion of responsibility. Everyone assumes someone else is going to do something, or if nobody else is doing anything, neither should they. One of them could at least have had the good sense to pull out a phone and start recording; even if it was just shameless rubbernecking, at least we'd have a picture of what these fuckers look like.
28
There's really that many people hanging out on the Eastbank Esplanade at 8:30 PM on a Sunday? I had no idea.

The majority of people I see on the Eastbank are the homeless, which might explain why they:

1) didn't call the police
2) weren't all that taken aback by a fight

I'm not saying the homeless are thoughtless monsters, just that they're less likely to have phones, much less likely to get involved with the police and are unfortunately much more accustomed to seeing people get the shit beat out of them on the sidewalk.
29
Graham - you are the king of all pussies. Long live the pussy king!
30
Yeah, but that´s not what you`ve said you would do before, and one can tell too by the attitude by wich you aborded the subject you were disinterested from the real issue here. You`re fooling no one, dude. Don´t be a Hypocrite.


Don´t try to play goodie two shoes now. Am not "advocating for people" to do anything, but what´s right, as I explained in my previous post. You didn´t talked about " (...)and stay on the line giving descriptions of everyone involved until the police arrive (...)" until now. You took that from my post. You just said "call 911". There´s a big, big difference. Your disinterested manner of speech gave you out.

Me? If I saw a gay bashing or a beat down going on would *I* go and help, get physically involved? Interject? I would study the situation, and I might take action. What`s wrong with that? I have done it before, and am a very, very mellow and pacific person. Did I Fight? You may say I didn´t. Did I stopped a few guys punches on other dudes who where afraid and intimidated, practically frozen, and half beaten down, yes.

I pulled out 2 crying young dudes from the reach of a couple of pumped muscle bullies who actually appeared to be gay bashing in the district of Chueca in Madrid, or so the beaten up guys told me after the incident passed. Nothing happened to me but a hit in the head.

Other time I yelled away a mob who where teasing and using violence, inciting a confrontation with 3 Drag Queens of a certain age whose fear you could see in their eyes and it wasn´t pleasant at all. I just yelled at them. After the inciters left The Drag Queens told me they were being followed for a couple of blocks by those guys. And I don´t know how to fight or anything of that sort. I never have physically fought, actually.

I don´t like fights, nor I like injustices, but there are people that rather do something than see stuff WHICH ISNT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN, keep on happening, anywhere. May be disinterest, misunderstanding of one actions and reactions in one´s environment, or just plain hypocrisy taken to an extreme. Or acts of the sort of this post, which can be a result of all the previous mentioned.

Before you take this and twist it from another angle, yeah, I stepped in the beat down, and I yelled at the instigators really loud in the other occasion. I was conscious of what I was doing, and the idea of using violence was practically non existent. I was defending you may say, and immediately there were other people calling the Police, as well as other people "in there". And in the first event even one guy stepped in for a couple of seconds and did helped. Nothing went further in those 2 incidents. And maybe those guys who were instigating, maybe "just for fun", maybe out of hate, would think twice the next time they want to beat up some one just cuz they are smaller or for this or that.

Basically, you said you would just have "called 911" - very disinterested about the situation. That doesn´t help - You didn´t talked about working with the cops to identify and all that, mind you, like you have later tried to state - But that is valid too, a plain 911 call.

" it's not my place to get directly involved." You`ve said.

But the way you approached the subject was of bad taste since the beggining to what am used to, to what I believe is right about living and sharing an environment. Let´s call it like that, as not to go too deeper into the big picture.

Sorry for the long post, but "Incidents" like this are wrong, AND can be stopped, or can be in an idealistic thinking, vanished. Along types of "Aloof Postures" that don´t help either, or/and are part of the problem.
31
sorry, my previous post was to Graham.
32
@Graham: and don´t try to make "victims" out of the people in these accidents...
33
@leaky tl;dr, whatevs. I'm sorry that I didn't expound on what exactly is entailed in calling 911 in great enough detail for you.
34
No men, that doesn´t work at this point Graham.

(whatevs...)???
35
@leaky: I'm really happy that you've turned this into what I would do in a hypothetical situation.; this will really clear things up.
36
This is not about being cynical Graham. Stuff like this either helps or worsens situations.
37
I mean you being cynical.
38
1. Why was this not reported to the press as soon as it happened? I would think time is critical for witnesses that may have been there but missed the Police interviews to come forward..

2. Why is Portland Media dependent on the Police for details on important stories such as this?

Why are we finding out about this nearly two days after it occurred?
39
Not that you know what cynical means in this context, but is like dropping a stone to a well.
40
Damn, Leaky! You're awesome.
41
I once worked as a bouncer. During one "extraction" of a violent/drunk patron, his "girlfriend" came after me with a bottle. I didn't see her coming. Someone else, still don't know who, stepped in her (maniacal) way. Saved my skull. A LOT of other people (friends included) were frozen (or told me so later) and couldn't move. It's not fair to say when an unexpected serious event occurs we'd know what we'd actually do. I'm ever-thankful someone stepped in. I do not hold my friends accountable for what they didn't do, I never saw it as a choice, but a reaction. There's a difference. If they had time to think, they'd do something. So the bystanders on the bridge have to live with the reality that they either DIDN'T or COULDN'T take action. Big difference.
I no longer bounce. I wasn't much good at it, obviously. But I want to be the person who steps up in whatever way if I see someone coming at another with a bottle, or threats, or whatever violence they have, context or not.
And much sympathy to those attacked.
And a big "Fuck you" to the attackers, leave Portland, ass-wipes, and take your blow up sex dolls with you.
42
I admire Graham for his frankness regarding his cowardice. I'd like to think better of myself; I imagine a braver, saner, abler person than I actually am. And though I hope, pray, and would love to be a person who would interject; I know I'm not. Even as someone in the "community" who fears this kind of bias crime daily: I have no idea what I'd do in the situation; I've never been tested. But jesus, do I hope someone would be there for me if the roles were reversed (hypothetically).

That said, if you don't at least call 911, or help to identify the assailant, I consider you worse than the attacker. Hell, you're even worse than a coward.
44
Christ Leaky, you're making sense.

Just to say it for the twelve thousandth time: bullies tend to back down when even one person steps in between them and their prey. This is because bullies are cowards. Even three of them. That's why you take the chance and just fucking doing it.

That, and because you hope that if the tables were turned, someone else would do it for you.
45
(That "damn" wasn't because I'm surprised that you're awesome, Leaks--I knew that--but in admiration of what you did in Chueca and elsewhere.)
46
Thanks. That`s sometimes kinda normal if you`re running the streets partying late at night in Madrid, how it was some 5 or 6 years ago. Now it`s more "lame" cuz I think people can`t drink in the streets, and that`s what made Madrid what it was back then. Back then you could just say hi to anyone and start chatting. Now everybody seems to mind their own business in the streets, everybody just goes directly to bars, etc. No hanging out in the streets, socializing. I really don´t know how it is now in Madrid, haven`t asked to a certain level, but due to some stupid riots drinking in the streets was prohibited with a really strong law. But everybody who has a certain temperance has stories of this sort against hate crimes, racism, etc, and I`ve got a bunch of others too :-). Madrid is hardcore in a good way. (Hope is still is...)
47
Temperance meaning low tolerance against this "types of things" and pro-active in the spot. Which was normal in Madrid at that time.
48
@Fruit Cup, El Stunto, Rich Bachelor: The reactions you're describing are well known within the military. Traditional wisdom has said that during World War II, only 3 out of 10 men in a squad would fire their weapon during an engagement (SLA Marshall, Men Against Fire). Since these findings, a large part of military training has been to teach soldiers in how to mentally prepare themselves for action. The actual mechanics of engagement are secondary for the most part. I have not gone through this sort of rigorous mental or physical training and I am eminently pragmatic in my ability to properly handle a violent situation. The internet is full of 'tough guys' who like to claim they'd do this or that in these sorts of situations; I'm not one of those people.
49
This is a bit OT, but the last time I called 911 on behalf of someone else, it didn't work out too well. There was a car stopped in the middle of the street with about 10 people standing around it, and lots of yelling. A few people were looking out their windows at the scene. I was about a block away, and heard,"Get out of the car!" and "Help! Call the police!" and "Get on the ground!" as well as lots of cursing and name-calling. I called 911 and the dispatcher sort of proceeded to chew me out for calling, "just because some people are arguing." I said, it seems like someone could be threatened or in danger, that there was a big group of angry people, and I repeated what I'd heard. The dispatcher said, "Well, does anyone have a gun?" I said that I didn't know, I wasn't up close enough to tell. The dispatcher then asked me IF I WOULD GET CLOSER TO TRY TO SEE IF THERE WAS A GUN. I said that I would not, so the dispatcher sorta told me to kick rocks. I went home, checked police reports for several days afterward and never heard another thing about it. It made me feel pretty crappy.

I was assaulted in front of a small group of people in Eugene many years ago. One man yelled "stop!" a lot, but no one intervened or called cops. A lack of involvement can seem a lot like approval or acceptance of the assault, and that can be really painful to the victim of an assault, as painful as any physical injuries. It's important to speak out or intervene if you can do so.
50
I have only considered jumping into a fight between people I didn't know when there was a mismatch, like a dude beating a woman or old person. Luckily every time I have been in this situation there was a beefier dude there ready to break it up.

I feel really bad for the victims in this case, so odd this would happen in Portland. If you went around beating every potential gay person you saw it would be a full time job. Calling the cops seems appropriate in the case described in this story since it sounded one sided, but I don't call the cops every time I see a fight, often it seems like the participants have chosen to fight and why get them in trouble with the cops?

The only time I have heard gay slurs in a fight was outside the Roxy at 3 AM, I think both the dudes were gay (one of the many bystanders said they were fighting over a dude anyway). Had I called the cops I wonder if they would have both been charged with a hate crime?
51
I was once told on an outdoors-type course that when people encounter a road accident or similar, about 10% of people will make things better (e.g. doing first aid), 80% will do very little, and 10% will make things worse (by going into shock and getting in the way). We'd all like to think we'd be in the first 10%, seems like Graham is admitting that he wouldn't be. Fair enough. But even the 80% would call 911 straight away...
52
@Graham: sorry dude to keep ongoing with this same argument, but what got his talk fired up, at least by my part, it`s not that people would or have to get physically engaged nor physically involved, it`s just that you said that "You would simply call 911", and nothing more, then you chickened out, and elaborated an argument trying to convince everybody that calling 911 for you means ALSO working with the police to identify the suspects, given em info and all that. When you first said that you would ONLY call 911, and that`s the case. Doing that doesn´t help any further. I call Bulllshit. But I may be wrong so am pretty sure I wont get into this anymore. There are people out there who are in a more positive position and attitude towards everything and am not gonna loose my Zen over your bullshit which I see.

You can throw in fancy words about supposedly facts, which may or not be true, like "Traditional Wisdom", about World War which hasn´t anything to do with this. But still your aloofness to the topic of a beat down which may have a stamp of a hate crime in it in the streets of your city is prevalent. Don´t fool yourself. Either way you would be good at being a big dummy.
53
The decision whether and how to intervene at the scene of violence or abuse is a very difficult and personal one. There is no reason someone cannot call 911. Beyond that, it depends a lot on the person's character, physical attributes, experiences, risk tolerance, values and the situation. I have responded to what appeared to be male on female abuse, verbal, restraint and the threat of physical violence, by confronting the abuser with another individual who happened on the scene at the same time and refusing to leave until the abuser left first. I drove up to a scene where a single police officer was wrestling on the ground with someone and he was not in control of the situation. Although I worried that the individual might disarm the officer and then have a gun to use, I grabbed a softball bat and got out of my vehicle to offer help while my wife called 911. I don't think of myself as aggressive or fearless but have usually responded well to challenging circumstances. But I can't say what I would do in a given situation until confronted with it and would not judge anyone for not doing what I might do under the influence of adrenalin and in the heat of an emergency. We have all read of those who have attempted to intervene, sometimes only verbally, and ended up paying a high price for it.
54
@Leaky: To repeat myself; I'm sorry that I didn't expound on what exactly is entailed in calling 911 in great enough detail for you.
55
this talk fired up***
56
@Graham: your tone of voice is "mocking", for not finding a better term of a word, I still call bullshit, and go talk like that to someone who will take it, not me.

I see this as a serious issue.
57
Fortunately, the police don't have to know beyond a reasonable doubt that a hate crime was committed in order to investigate it, or even charge someone with it. There is plenty of evidence to investigate this as a hate crime based on the description of events in the police statement. Only an unreasonable asshole would not see it.
58
@Leaky: What part is mocking?

@Demondog: You are correct, the police don't need ANY evidence to investigate a crime. But the Distract Attorneys and court system will if they're to do anything about it. I do not see anything wrong with asking the question about what proof they do have.
59
Graham, I'm not saying I *would* intervene in a situation like this, I'm saying that I *have* intervened in situations like this, and you'd be surprised how little it actually takes. Can I prove that? Nope, I'm just a semi-anonymous commenter on the Internet, and nothing I can say will prove anything.

The more important point was the second one I made. You do it because you hope someone else would do it for you.
60
@rich bachelor: What you're describing are moral ethical choices made by individuals. The point that I'm trying to make is that when taken as an aggregate, people are often mentally or physically unable to act in these sorts of situations. This sort of shock is well known to exist and to describe the majority of people as 'cowards' (I'm not implying that you said this, but others have) due to this over-simplifies the situation. I do not see in myself the makings of a hero; maybe when actually placed in these situations I would react differently. But while sitting comfortably in my chair in front of a computer; I am pragmatic in my theoretical actions.
61
Can we get a follow up poll or maybe give out an honorary "Troll of the Week" award? There is an element to this thread that is just dying to be dealt at a safe distance away from the main topic, which is a very serious one.
62
@Graham Don't worry, some of us get exactly what you're saying. Personally, I think Leaky is being a huge cunt about it.

Would I like to assume I would help, however one defines help? Obviously. Would I in real life? How the fuck do I know, I've never seen someone get jumped. I'm a short fat old woman.. chances that I could help physically are slim. Maybe I could help psychologically by showing that outsiders were getting involved so it was time for the assholes to run. Or, maybe I'd get stabbed. I would probably stop and consider first!

Calling 911 is an issue too. Did it LOOK like a beatdown? Or like guys roughhousing? I don't know. The things my nephews do to each other look like a fucking beatdown to me, but they eat it up. I would also have to stop and consider whether calling 911 was right.

As ROM said, fights usually have context. It may not have been obvious what was happening. Not everyone is a fucking fight specialist like some of you. If I saw a gun or knife, then that explains a few things, but here one guy got a busted lip. I'm not saying that's no big deal, I'm saying it may not have been clear that this was MORE than guys being dicks to their buddies. Source: every youtube video made by teenage males.

You weren't there, Leaky. Stop being a bully. It's okay for a person to say they would have reservations about taking action.
63
graham: since you put it that way, agreed.
64
I have intervened in fights in public a couple times. I'm not big. I'm not threatening. I'm not anything exceptional, and I have rarely put myself physically in danger. Both times it took something like, "Hey! Hey! Stop!". That's it.
People doing this crap don't want to be seen. Bystanders doing ANYTHING make them uncomfortable. Practice this line: "Hey! No! Stop!".
65
I just have to say something I don't think anyones mentioned. There seems to be some arguement about wether this was a "fight" or a "beat-down" and a hate crime or not. WHO THE HELL CARES? People are fighting, there is violence. DO SOMETHING! Call 911, start screaming fire! (works better than rape or anything else). Intervene if you possibly think you can. Take photos of the attackers with your cell phone. How would you feel if someone died because you were afraid of getting hurt? As a woman I may not have gotten physically involved but I would have done all of the other things. I have interviened with a man beating his wife/girfriend before and was terrified, but if you start usually others join in. They did for me. I hate to believe we live in a world where we no longer care about our fellow man, no matter who he is or what his/her sexual orientation is.

I think too that the hate crime status is really low. I know I was with a group of friends in portland coming from the bars and some red-necks in a pickup actually shot at us. That was never reported, we just got the hell out of there.
66
@uufeminist I don't think anyone here is saying they don't care.. just that things can be complex and hard to judge immediately. Neither is anyone saying they would have done nothing, just that they don't KNOW for sure what they would have done. It's hard to judge hypotheticals. The focus should have stayed on the story, but devolved into a 'what would you have done' argument which is silly considering that everyone WANTED to help.
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I wasn't using coward as a negative, in case that didn't come through. There's really not a better word I can think of. That said, I agree with you Graham: I also cannot imagine a physical situation where I would intervene, though I'd like to think better.

I think everyone can agree that calling the cops and helping to describe the attackers is the least anyone should be expected to do, or be held accountable for.