Two Gay Men Attacked in Possible Hate Crime in D.C.

ROBBIE BERLETTA WITH PERMISSION FROM FACEBOOK

Two gay men were beaten September 16 in Washington, D.C., by five attackers who shouted antigay slurs, according to police. 

Robbie Barletta and William Southern say four men and a woman assaulted them less than two blocks from the Third District D.C. Police Station while they walking home from an LGBTQ sports event at 9:30 p.m., the Washington Blade reports. The pair were wearing shirts that bore the name of the Stonewall Kickball LGBTQ athletic league.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

So, this is extremely hard for me and I have not 100% settled on how I feel it. But, Sunday a friend of mine @robertandre and I were the target and the victims of a hate crime. We were attacked by 4 men and a women on the corner of 16th and U in Washington DC, simply because we were gay. The four men and the lady brutally attacked myself and my friend, I was sent to the ER where I received stitches to pull my lip back together. But, the moral of this story is not that it happened or for people to feel sorry for me. This is a statement, I will never stop being gay, I will never feel ashamed of who I am. Most importantly, I will never let anyone around me feel like less of a person simply because of who they are! I am fortunate enough to have an amazing support system even though I have only lived in DC for a few months. I am proud and honoured to be apart of @stonewallkickball, my kickball family came together and has given me amazing support and I never would have met them without the lady’s and gentlemen who were courageous enough to put together these teams to support LGBTQ rights and give them a safe haven to be themselves. May we stand strong and move forward.

A post shared by William Southern (@wsouthernxd) on

“The four men and the lady brutally attacked myself and my friend,” Southern posted on Instagram, dubbing the attack a hate crime. “I was sent to the ER where I received stitches to pull my lip back together.” 

According to the police report, Southern was knocked out cold and "bleeding profusely from the face," while Barletta received injuries to the head and face. Witnesses called the police, who arrived at the scene after the suspects drove away. Southern was taken to Howard University Hospital for treatment; Barletta did not require medical attention.

The police report, which refers to Southern and Barletta as Victim 1 and Victim 2, says the incident started with a driver-pedestrian dispute. It also lists the attack as a suspected hate crime.

“As Victim 1 and Victim 2 entered the crosswalk an unknown vehicle almost collided with them while making a right turn from U St. onto New Hampshire Ave., N.W.,” the report reads. “After the near miss, Victim 1 hit the vehicle with his open hands yelling at the driver, who drove away north on New Hampshire Ave.”

“Another vehicle, which was occupied by Suspect 1 through Suspect 5, was also turning onto New Hampshire Ave. began yelling derogatory obscenities at Victim 1 and Victim 2,” the report continues, referring to what the men say were antigay slurs. “Subsequently, the vehicle with the 5 unknown suspects stopped on New Hampshire Ave., and [the suspects] began assaulting Victim 1 and Victim 2.” 

Lt. Brett Parson, who supervises the police LGBT Liason Unit and is working on the investigation, told the Blade that new information has come to light since the report was filed. Additional witnesses have come forward and said the first vehicle, which nearly hit Barletta and Southern, stopped at the scene and some suspects may have been in that car, he said.

“As far as the vehicles involved, there were two vehicles that we believe were present at the location from which the suspects exited,” Parson said. “And we do believe these vehicles were traveling together at the time of the assault.”

“We believe a total of five individuals were involved in this assault,” he added. “And by saying involved meaning they were either present or participated in the assault. And they are all adults."

This assault is the sixth in D.C. since April 15 in which male victims were attacked by people shouting homophobic slurs. It's the first where a woman was involved.

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