Four gay men ran for their lives at the Utah Pride Festival Saturday when at least a dozen young white men chased them yelling slurs — but Terrance Mannery, a black shopkeeper at Doki Doki, a dessert spot, fought the hateful mob off, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.
After being chased by the mob, which Salt Lake City police overheard yelling slurs, the men fled into Doki Doki.
“Based on the actions the group was making, based on everything the gentlemen who came in had told me — if I allowed anyone in the store, they would try to cause harm to people,” Mannery told the Tribune. “I couldn’t see how big the group was. I thought, It’s just seven to 10 people. Maybe they’ll back off.’
Michelle Turpin, who was walking with friends outside the festival, believed the crowd was larger, with about 20 people coming to attack the gay men. “They were all late teens, early 20s, clean-cut, typical blondie, blue-eyed, wholesome Utah boys,” she said.
Mannery came out of the store with his arms outstretched to keep the attackers at a distance, but one shoved him into a door so hard it broke the hinge. He then attacked Mannery. Unable to determine how many people in the mob were swinging at him, Mannery was punched at least seven times, but he fought back.
“It felt like they were trying to pull me out so they could all jump on, but I was trying to push them out, so that actually worked in my favor,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the fleeing gay men and patrons watched, trapped in Doki Doki as a stack of chairs had fallen over and blocked the entrance during the fight. A woman outside tried to break up the crowd, but the violence finally stopped when a security guard from a nearby building approached the scene.
“When I found out it was a hate crime, I was shocked,” said Turpin. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought all the kids in that age demographic were beyond that homophobic behavior.”
Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, disagrees.
"This kind of violence and hate seems inconceivable in 2018," he told The Advocate. "While we celebrate the growing strength and power of our community, it’s clear there are still people in Utah who are driven to target their victims for violence simply because of who they are. These kinds of attacks are not just aimed at the immediate victims; they are intended to send a message of fear and intimidation throughout our entire community."
The four men, who were afraid of being chased home, took the Lyft they had requested before the violence broke out. Their driver, Ross Rogers, had seen the incident in its entirety.
“I could hear one of them start crying,” Rogers, who also is gay, told the Tribune. He proudly keeps a rainbow flag on his car. “I dropped them off and went two blocks around the corner, pulled over, locked my doors, and started crying myself.”
Irie Cao, who owns Doki Doki, described Mannery as “the guy who protects people.”
“If he saw anyone being threatened or anything, he doesn’t care if it’s 10 or 20 of them out there — he’s still going to run out and help,” she said.
"Terrance Mannery is our hero," Williams agreed. "We applaud and love him for his courageous and selfless act! But now we need to act."
Williams argued that there are not enough protections for LGBT people in Utah to provide full justice for those who are attacked for their identities.
"The perpetrators remain at large," he told The Advocate. "The Salt Lake Police is currently investigating. And though this seems like a cut-and-dry hate crime, the simple reality in Utah is that we don’t have a functioning hate-crimes law in our state."
For the past three years, Equality Utah has been bringing forth legislation like the victim targeting bill to address how the state deals with hate crimes. It has been met with staunch resistance.
"We need a statute that protects all people who are targeted because of their race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity," said Williams.
The group is still working to pass victim targeting legislation, which would better address hate crimes and seek to prevent them. Meanwhile, Williams will also grab some sweets.
"I’m looking forward to visiting Doki Doki to pay my respects to a true Utah hero," he said. "Please consider doing the same."
For now, Mannery seems like one of the community's best defenders.
“The way that I was raised was to stand up for yourself, stand up against bullies, and try to do unto others as you want done to yourself,” Mannery told the Tribune. “I don’t want anyone to be hurt. I just saw the group as a group of bullies. I figured, if someone is going to stand up to them and stop them, it’s going to have to be me. Everyone else in the store has kids, or they’re a little older — they’re not the ones I expect to go out and say, ‘No.’”
Watch an interview with the hero conducted by Fox 13.