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St. Martin police
condemned for lack of action in gay bashing

St. Martin police
condemned for lack of action in gay bashing

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A U.S. gay rights group criticized what it called a slow response by St. Martin police to an attack on gay New York journalists Dick Jefferson (pictured) and Ryan Smith, who were beaten with tire irons outside a bar in Philipsburg.

A U.S. gay rights group criticized what it called a slow response by St. Martin police to an attack on two gay tourists from New York who were beaten with tire irons outside a bar in Philipsburg. Human Rights Campaign urged St. Martin authorities to launch a complete investigation into the attack, which one of the victims described as a hate crime. "A failure to conduct a full and complete investigation to apprehend a hate-crime perpetrator not only allows prejudice to fester but keeps citizens and tourists at risk," Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese wrote in a letter to the Dutch ambassador in Washington, D.C. The attack happened on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island. Journalists Dick Jefferson, 51, and Ryan Smith, 25, were outside a bar with several friends early April 6 when three men started hitting them with tire irons. They were airlifted to Miami for medical treatment. Jefferson has been released from the hospital. He said that Smith was severely beaten, and his doctors believe he may have suffered brain damage. Jefferson, a senior broadcast producer for CBS's national evening news, said the attackers yelled antigay slurs at his friends earlier in the evening. He faulted St. Martin authorities for not collecting witness testimony on the night of the crime or pursuing other leads. "The police were and are still trying to ignore this situation," Jefferson said Monday in a telephone interview from Miami. Solmonese said reports of a sluggish investigation into the attack will "most certainly give pause to members of our community who are planning any future travels to the area." The island, a popular tourist destination, is shared by France and the Netherlands. Police, who have appealed to the public for help, held a press conference Monday to dispel allegations that they have done little to advance the case. Officials would not reveal details of the investigation. (AP)

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