Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Halloween Hate Crime Attack in San Diego

Jacob Harshbarger, gay bashed in San Diego (Fernando Lopez photo)

San Diego, California – A gay man was brutally beaten behind his home on Halloween morning by a mixed gender gang who shouted anti-gay epithets as they punched, kicked, and body-slammed him.  “Come over here and kick the fairy!” they shouted, among other slurs.  San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (SDLN) reports that Jacob Harshbarger, a well-known 32-year-old San Diegan gay man, was walking his two dogs in the alley behind his home about 3 a.m., after the bars closed on Sunday, October 31.  He noticed a group of three women and two men in the alley who seemed suspicious.  Intent on finishing his dog-walking, Harshbarger did not respond when one of the suspects asked him a question.  That night, Harsbarger had donned a tee-shirt with a catty, gay theme on it to wear out to the local bars for the Halloween parties.  Upon returning to his home, he wore a hoodie over the tee-shirt that covered the slogan.  The victim wondered if somehow during the exchange, one of the gang read his shirt, igniting the attack.  One of the males shouted out that Harsbarger was a gay man, drawing the others into the assault.  SDLN reports that the assailants fell upon Harsbarger, screaming that he was a “f*****g faggot.” A neighbor recalls hearing a loud “bang,” which was most likely the sound of Harsbarger’s body as he was slammed into the house during the gay bashing. The neighbor and her son investigated the commotion in the alley beside their house and found Harsbarger unconscious on the ground.  Though brief, the assault was savage.  Harsbarger was diagnosed with a concussion, and needed thirteen stitches to close his split lip, and was beaten so severely in the face that he sustained bruising behind his eyes.  The victim remembers very little, once the attack commenced.  He recalled for SDLN that one of the female gang members tried to get the chief attacker to stop when he kicked Harsbarger in the face, and that in the argument that broke out between the females and the males, one of the male attackers kicked one of the women in the stomach.  The next thing the victim remembered was the journey to a local hospital in an ambulance.  Harsbarger was treated and released to recover at home.  LGBTQ activists in San Diego say that the North Park section of the city is supposed to be safe and friendly to LGBTQ, people.  This attack is a wake-up call to the community, and a further indicator of the mounting violence against gay and lesbian people throughout the nation in the wake of the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law last October.  Local activist Fernando Lopez told reporters, “We think of San Diego and North Park as being progressive and safe. It’s devastating that someone would do this to Jacob, or any member of our community.” Police officers are not willing to label the attack a hate crime.  A spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department speculated that Harsbarger was “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” likely a spurious opinion, since the North Park area is thought to be relatively free of problems for LGBTQ people.  Investigators found that Harsbarger’s hoodie was zipped up when paramedics found him lying unconscious on the ground, so the attack was not sparked by the victim’s clothing, as he feared.  One of the attackers left a cell phone at the scene, which may prove to be a critical element in locating the suspects.  Since no one saw the bashing, investigators are left with the partial memories of a shaken and hurt victim of yet another crime of hate violence against the LGBTQ community in southern California.

November 2, 2010 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, Gang violence, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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