Protest calls for hate-crime charges

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com February 04 2003 12:00 AM ET

Protesters in Riverside, Calif., are demanding that hate-crime allegations be refiled against reputed gang members accused of killing a man outside a gay bar. More than 100 people rallied in front of a local church Friday night to condemn a judge's decision last month to dismiss the allegations. "We know hate when we see it," said Chani Beeman, chairwoman of the city's Human Relations Commission.

About a dozen relatives and acquaintances of those charged in the killings gathered across the street in a counterdemonstration. "They are not murderers. They were provoked," said Yolanda Gallardo, mother of defendant David Martinez.

Jeffery Owens, 40, of Moreno Valley, was stabbed on June 5 during an argument in the parking lot of the Menagerie bar. He died at a hospital after receiving an overdose of a blood-clotting drug. Witnesses said one attacker yelled a gay slur and that the stabbing was unprovoked, but relatives allege that a dispute over a pool game led to the attack. Five men have been charged with murder, and one woman has been charged as an accessory. Their arraignments are scheduled for Tuesday.