Several teenagers allegedly assaulted a gay couple in Northwest Washington, D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood on Sunday afternoon after calling them "monkeypox fa***ts."
The incident marks one of the first reported attacks on members of the LGBTQ+ community related to the monkeypox (MPV) outbreak.
The Advocate obtained a copy of the police report, stating that two men were walking south on Sunday on 7th Street N.W. at 5:43 p.m. Several young men approached the couple and punched them after first calling them "monkeypox fa**ots."
Metro Weekly reports that after an afternoon at a public swimming pool and the gay bar Kiki, two men, 25 and 23, were walking to a bus stop. The first wore a Hawaiian shirt, while the second wore a white crop top decorated with a rainbow Polaroid logo.
Near Shaw/Howard University Metro Station, the two met five teenage boys and two teen girls.
The male teenagers assumed the couple was gay and made homophobic remarks toward them, including calling them "monkeypox fa**ots."
A teenager came up to them from behind. As one of the men turned to face the teen, the teen punched him in the forehead, according to Metro Weekly. The second victim was then punched in the face, and another teenager struck the first victim, breaking his glasses in the process.
A woman who witnessed the assault from her balcony called 911.
As the police arrived, the alleged attackers fled. The girls in the group apologized to the couple.
"I was kind of pissed and said something along the lines of 'This is who you hang out with? That's f----d up,'" one of the men told Metro Weekly. "But one of them said their dad was gay and it was messed up that they attacked us. But I was still pretty pissed at the whole incident, so I let them pass."
The police who came to the scene took the men to the hospital.
"I feel like the officers on the scene were nice, or at least pretty kind to us," one of the victims told Metro Weekly. "It was nice that they showed some shock and concern for our health. It was really nice that they took us to the E.R. so we didn't have to pay for an ambulance."
Police took the men's statements at the hospital.
This case remains under investigation and is being handled as a possible hate crime, a spokesperson with Metropolitan Police Department tells The Advocate.
Harassment over the MPV outbreak has emerged in recent weeks. An Oregon man who suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes bumps to form along nerve endings under the skin, endured workplace discrimination because customers thought he was contagious.
He says that over the past month, customers have repeatedly contacted his company, claiming he has MPV due to his skin tumors, according to Portland's Fox affiliate KPTV.
Public health officials stress that reducing the stigma associated with MPV is paramount to combat the virus.
MPV is neither a sexually transmitted infection nor is it a "gay"disease. MPV, like all viruses, can be caught by anyone. Experts stress that the current outbreak is mainly among men who have sex with men and their social networks due to the social dynamics of the population.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a statement late Monday denouncing the attack.
"I am extremely disturbed by the reported hate crime that happened in DC this weekend," Bowser wrote. "I want to send my support to the victims. I also want to thank MPD's LGBT Liaison Unit for being part of the investigation. Whenever a hate crime happens in our city, it is our collective responsibility to understand the role we each play in building a safer community for every person who lives in and visits DC. We must stand up for our friends and neighbors, especially right now when there is too much anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric sweeping our nation."
She added, "We must call out the people in our circles if they promote hateful or ignorant ideology, especially right now when people are using public health to stigmatize and discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community."
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