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Police: Attack on gay student a hate crime

Police: Attack on gay student a hate crime

Police in Chapel Hill, N.C., say an attack on a gay student who was beaten by a gang of six or seven men was a hate crime, but no witnesses have come forward to help investigators. The victim suffered broken bones but wasn't hospitalized, police said. His attackers, described as six or seven white males around the age of 20, have not been identified. Police still have few details about the attack other than what the 21-year-old student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill could recall. The student was walking alone around 2 a.m. Friday near the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets when he was taunted by the group of young men. They made derogatory comments about the victim's sexual orientation before assaulting him, said police spokeswoman Jane Cousins. Although the victim was walking along a popular stretch of roadway, no witnesses have come forward, Cousins said. "We don't have a lot to go on," she said. "Anyone who might have seen anything, we'd like them to call." Police categorized the incident as a hate crime because of the attackers' comments, Cousins said. "It came as an absolute, total surprise," said David Ruskey, a UNC senior and member of the executive board of the university's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Straight Alliance. Ruskey said the attack has illustrated to local gay and lesbian groups that the university isn't the cloistered, protected community some perhaps had assumed it was. "It's something I never would have foreseen happening in this area," he said. "From what I've seen of Chapel Hill, it's a fairly welcoming, open area. An incident happening like this is just mind-blowing."

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