Atlanta police fip-flopping on Midtown attack

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It’s not a hate crime. It’s a hate crime. Now it’s a possible hate crime.

The confusion from the Atlanta Police Department over the beating of a 28-year-old gay man on Sunday would be laughable if it weren’t such a serious matter. Instead it’s just a dizzying example of the police department bungling its treatment of what’s becoming a high-profile incident at a time when there is a public uproar over crime in the city (being led, in part, by a gay man).

At first, APD said it wasn’t a bias crime based on the facts presented in an incident report — which, by the way, the department wouldn’t release until after being repeatedly prodded by Southern Voice. Then APD’s LGBT liaison said Wednesday it is a hate crime. Then the officer backtracked later in the day, saying the case is being investigated “as a possible hate crime.”

Officer Dani Lee Harris said she interviewed the victim March 11. She told Southern Voice about 2 p.m. that day the police would investigate the attack as a hate crime. Five hours later, she called back to clarify that it is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Although she can consider the attack a hate crime, she cannot speak for the department, she said.

“Because of the discrepancies in the report and what the victim told me, we are looking into this as a possible hate crime,” Harris said.

Harris said the victim, whose name is not being released by Southern Voice at this time, told her he was walking from Blake’s on the Park to the Midtown MARTA station at about 10 p.m. Sunday when two men approached him.

“The victim told me they asked if he just left Blake’s and he said yes, and then they asked him if he was gay, and he said yes. That’s when they attacked him,” Harris said.

The victim, 28, told Harris the men called him “faggot” as they beat him and also stole his wallet, demanding to know how much money he had. The victim also acknowledged he was very drunk when the alleged attack took place, Harris said.

Let’s hope that APD’s confusion about the nature of the crime isn’t slowing down their pursuit of the attackers.

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