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St. Martin
tourism officials denounce gay bashing

St. Martin
tourism officials denounce gay bashing

Commissioners call for swift justice in the apprehension of the perpetrators.

St. Martin tourism officials on Monday denounced this month's gay bashing of two American journalists and called for swift justice against the attackers.

In a joint statement, Theo Heyliger and Romeo Fleming of the Caribbean island's tourism board addressed the April 5 assault on CBS Evening News producer Dick Jefferson, 48 Hours staffer Ryan Smith, and Smith's partner, all of whom were attacked with a tire iron outside a St. Martin nightclub. Jefferson and Smith sustained serious injuries, and Smith is still in a Miami hospital, unable to form complete sentences.

"The entire community of St. Martin expresses its deepest sympathies for the pain and anguish suffered by Ryan Smith and Richard Jefferson, and their families, from the vicious attack that occurred on our island," Heyliger and Fleming said in the statement. "We are appalled that such a violent act was committed on St. Martin, a destination that has long been recognized for its safety, friendliness, and absence of crime. This community is committed to being a welcome environment for persons of all ethnic, religious, and social preferences. We consider this to be an isolated incident that is in no way representative of the behavior of our citizens."

Heyliger announced that St. Martin's government is actively working on "identifying and apprehending the perpetrators who brutally attacked these men." (The Advocate)

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