"Being mean to you isn't against the law," a Portland, Ore., officer told a lesbian couple when he learned that an angry young man visiting a friend in the neighborhood got in their faces and spewed the words "dyke" and "cunt" while also threatening to assault them.
"I'll spit in your face ... I'll literally put you to fucking sleep," the man, who has not been identified, told Portland resident Trudy Dragoon while her partner, Wendy Dragoon, videotaped him, according to The Portland Mercury.
The verbal assault began when the women were crossing a street in their neighborhood and heard an engine rev as a truck sped toward them, with the driver saying something about "beating the shit out of fucking dykes," they said.
The women jumped onto the sidewalk when a young man got out of the truck at a nearby home and began verbally assailing them with homophobic and misogynistic slurs. When the man got in Trudy's face, Wendy began videotaping the incident.
The man called kicked it off by calling Trudy a "gay pride-ass bitch."
"You think you scare me? You're a fucking woman," the man said when Wendy refused to cower from him.
The confrontation went on for three minutes on the video when an officer patrolling the neighborhood stopped and Wendy explained that the man had been harassing her with her hate speech.
Meanwhile, the harasser's friend told the officer that the women would not get off of his property. At that point, Wendy stopped shooting video, but in an interview with the Mercury, the women said that the officer advised them to "ignore" the slurs.
"This is harassment. This has to be a hate crime," Wendy said she told the officer.
That's when he told the Dragoons that "being mean to you isn't against the law" and erroneously replied that violence had to occur for the confrontation to be deemed a hate crime, which is not true.
According to Oregon's laws on hate crimes, a person can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor for:
"Intentionally, because of the person's perception of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin of another or of a member of the other's family, subjects the other person to alarm by threatening:
(A)To inflict serious physical injury upon or to commit a felony affecting the other person, or a member of the person's family..."
A spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, Christopher Burley, wrote in an email to the Mercury that he can't comment on the officer's response to the incident, but that there's more to the story than what the video depicted. He also said that the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office may do further investigation into the video.
"The Police Bureau is aware that speech, such as the speech present in this video, instills fear in members of our community," Burley did add.
In a show of support for the women, members of the community drew rainbows and wrote inspiring messages in chalk on the road outside of their home before a neighbor accusing the well-wishers of littering his property with graffiti called the police and hosed off the messages.