February 16, 2013 2 Comments
The two victims who were attacked last weekend in Pocatello are speaking out about the incident. The men were walking home, after a night at Club Charleys, Pocatello’s only gay nightclub, when the attack occurred.
According to the Idaho State Journal, the victims, who identity as gay, were walking to the home of one of the victims along Ninth Avenue, when a car pulled up along side them. The driver of a vehicle, described by one of the victims as a “a light-colored two-door car,” yelled at them to “get off the street.” One of the victims says yelled back that they would.
The driver stopped and got out of the car anyway. The male attacker, described as a being six-feet-tall, muscular and wearing no shirt, started punching the two victims.
The two men, who wish to remain anonymous, say they have little recollection of the attack. A near-by resident, who came out of his house to investigate all the noise, apparently scared off the assailant.
Neither victim went to the hospital that evening, nor did they immediately report the crime to police.
According to the Idaho State Journal,”The next morning after one of the men had returned to Idaho Falls, the other realized the injuries to his face were severe and he had a friend drive him to the emergency room at Portneuf Medical Center. CT scans at the hospital revealed multiple fractures to his cheeks and eye sockets,” the paper reports.
A friend of the victims, who was with the pair when they left Club Charleys, tells the Journal that he suspects the attack may have been motivated by hate. For now, though, the Bannock County Prosecutor is handling the case as a “felony aggravated battery charge.”
The friend, a local businessman, tells the paper that this is the THIRD recent attack against members of the gay community, “About a month ago, a gay man was beat up seriously in front of Jack in the Box at Center and Fourth,” he tells the paper. He says an FBI agent investigating potential hate crimes in Pocatello recently, “mentioned an assault on two lesbian women outside a bar several months ago.”
Idaho has no specific hate crimes laws involving a person’s sexuality. Idaho Police say that while there are federal laws on the books, because of the lack of any state hate crime or discrimination laws, often prosecutors hands are tied.
Experts say that gay victims often fail to report the incident out of fear of retribution.
Idaho also doesn’t have any statewide protections for LGBT community members, another factor that can keep victims from reporting a crime. Those working with the community point out that when a person can be fired from their job or lose their housing for being gay or lesbian, “they probably aren’t going to pick up the phone to report a hate crime.”
If you know anything about any thing about the attack you are urged to call the Pocatello Police Department. You can also contact the Idaho State Police Department, as well as the regional office of the FBI, with any questions or concerns you might have regarding filing a hate crime report:
FBI Salt Lake City
Suite 1200, 257 Towers Bldg.
257 East, 200 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111-2048