A community in Germany is mourning the death of a 25-year-old transgender man who died today after being attacked and seriously injured at the closing event as part of Christopher Street Day or LGBTQ+ Pride in Münster in northwest Germany several days ago.
Residents of the progressive university city and political leaders are expressing disbelief and shock over the act of violence. The man was identified only by his first name, Malte.
On Friday, German police announced an arrest in the case, according to television station WDR.
Thousands gathered in the town's marketplace today to remember the young man many call a hero.
Club members placed a flag and colorful memorial stones at the crime scene.
"The hostilities are increasing again," said Trans*Inter*-Münster association president Felix Adrian Schäper. He added that attacks against LGBTQ+ people are rising because more queer people live openly, radio station Antenne Münster reported.
The Christopher Street Day Münster association, which organizes Münster's LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations, released a statement following the attack. CSD Münster says Malte was attacked shortly after 8 p.m. on Saturday.
According to witnesses, the assailant insulted several women at the festival, calling them "lesbian whores" and telling them to "piss off."
Malte, police say, noticed the situation and asked the troublemaker to quit insulting people. Suddenly, the attacker punched Malte in the face, making him unsteady on his feet. Then, the person punched Malte in the face a second time, causing him to lose consciousness and hit the ground in an unprotected fall, hitting his head on the asphalt.
The suspect then fled on foot with along with another person. Eyewitnesses described the suspect as a man between 18 and 20 years old, five foot six to five foot nine inches tall, with a slim frame.
He was wearing flared jeans, a t-shirt, and a bucket hat.
German police had launched a large-scale investigation and asked for the public to contact authorities with tips. Late on Friday word came that police arrested a 20-year-old suspect at the city's central train station. According to press reports, a German police official recognized the offender on closed circuit television. No further details about the suspect were released, in accordance with German privacy laws.
Supporters and mourners rallied in the central market square of the town on Friday evening. What was supposed to be a rally to draw attention to the attack instead became a rallying cry in the name of Malte.
In a call to action, CSD Münster took to Instagram.
"As a community, we stand together against queer hostility, any form of bigotry and violence," the organization wrote. "Let's strengthen each other and always defend each other! But on Friday, it should be about taking our emotions to the public. How that affects us as people, and how our everyday life is changed by something like this.
"It's already well known that after the CSD festival, a young transman was knocked unconscious because he tried stopping anti-queer remarks from being made," the series of images comprising the statement read.
"The idea that someone from our community has to endure such violence near our safe spaces makes us sad and angry. We want to express these emotions in a rally on Friday at 6 p.m. in front of Prinzipalmarkt."
It concluded, "Bring banners and posters."
The event featured musical contributions and speeches and an open mic opportunity for people to share their emotions and feelings.
To ensure safety, the group displayed a rainbow flag at the central train station as a meeting point that the group could depart from in a safe number after the event.
Mayor Marcus Lewe says he's dismayed and has ordered black ribbons atop all buildings and flagpoles in the city.
"This horrible event shows that we still have to work harder for equality and acceptance of people of different sexual orientations," Lewe told WDR.
In Germany, communities celebrate Christopher Street Day, which is synonymous with LGBTQ+ Pride. The name refers to the street on which the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan is located — the birthplace of Pride.