Long Beach Gay Bashings Have Community On-Edge: Police Increase Patrols
West Hollywood isn't the only community in the midst of a gay bashing scare.
Gay rights activists in Long Beach are planning on bringing back long-gone street patrols after two men were attacked Halloween night in the city. The last patrol disbanded in the 1990s, but the October incident has people scared -- and angry.
"We need to get back on the streets with our whistles and walkie-talkies," Vanessa Romain, a volunteer with the original program, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Two men were arrested in the Halloween violence, the paper reported:
The Halloween attack occurred near The Gay and Lesbian Center at Cherry Avenue and Fourth Street in front of several witnesses, who contacted police and paramedics for help, said Wade Cook, 53, one of the men who was attacked.
A police statement indicates the attack was reported at 8:10 p.m., and that two suspects were quickly apprehended at Third and Cherry.
The victims sustained "moderate injuries," police stated.
Long Beach police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt told the Weekly that the suspects were recently identified as Marquise Lucas, 19, and Sierys Dunbar, 27, of Long Beach.
The L.A. County District Attorney's office filed charges against each for alleged assault with a deadly weapon (their hands) with intent to create great bodily injury, she said.
The D.A. had yet to decide if the attack might also allegedly constitute a hate crime.
But activists are taking no chances. There was also an assault against a gay person in July, according to the Press-Telegram.
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Greater Long Beach, Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal and the Long Beach Police Department organized a forum attended by 75 people over the weekend.
Activists are calling for renewed patrols under a community watch program.
The Halloween attack was witnessed by bystanders who might have even thwarted the attack, police told the paper.
Cops are increasing patrols in the area of Cherry Avenue and Fourth Street, Pratt told us.
[Update]: Porter Gilberg, administrative director of the Gay and Lesbian Center, tells the Weekly:
We were definitely disturbed and disappointed to learn that a hate crime did occur almost outside our doors. There's so many more incidents that go unreported, it's impossible to know how common these are.
But, Gilberg says, on the whole it appears that hate crimes in Long Beach, including those against gay and lesbian people, are down since the police department began tracking them in 2006. Six so far this year, with three of them aimed at gay and/or lesbian people, is a low, she said:
Long Beach is generally a safe city with a thriving LGBT community. Unfortunately some members of our community have lashed out in a way that shocked us.