More than 300 people gathered at Love Park in Philadelphia on Thursday in protest of the September 11 gay bashing that left two local men with injuries requiring hospitalization.
Caryn Kunkle, a friend of the couple and initiator of a Change.org campaign urging changes to the Pennsylvania hate-crimes law, read a statement on behalf of the couple.
“If there is one city where this will never happen again, it’s Philadelphia,” Kunkle read, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
Out state representative Brian Sims also addressed the crowd, pointing out the need to amend the state's hate-crimes law to cover crimes motivated by the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity. Three people have been arrested in connection with the attack, but despite evidence that the men were targeted for being gay, it cannot be prosecuted as a hate crime under the current state law.
“The truth is despite the national outcry in response to the attack that took place two weeks ago, too many crimes similar this go unnoticed by the general public,” Sims told the crowd, according to The Philadelphia Tribune. “We’ve lost too many members of our LGBT community to senseless acts of hate and violence.”
Philadelphia deputy police commissioner Richard Ross Jr. assured attendees that the police force would take action to address and deter criminal acts.
“We pledge to vigilantly prosecute and go after anyone who looks to terrorize and/or commit any acts of violence towards any members of our community,” Ross said, according to the Tribune. “We will not stand for it. We support this legislation because we believe that it is important. It will help us to protect all the members of our community and our commonwealth.”
Love over Hate Rally @ love park happening rite now. pic.twitter.com/syeZaFwEDE
— GALAEI (@galaeiphilly) September 25, 2014
— G Philly (@G_Philly) September 25, 2014
LGBT Love Park rally for PA Hate Crimes legislation. Response to beating of gay couple in Center City Philly pic.twitter.com/xyaihGffMf
— Elizabeth Fiedler (@EAFiedler) September 25, 2014