Event raises $1,600 for Midtown attack victim

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imageAn evening usually reserved for cocktails and conversation on Thursday turned into a fundraiser for the gay victim of an attack in Midtown.

On Thursdays, a crowd of mostly gay men fills the lower bar of Trois in Midtown for the Thursday Night Cocktail Sip in Gay Atlanta, but this week the event took on a tone of social activism as attendees rallied to raise $1,600. The funds will be split between John Evans, who suffered broken teeth and other injuries during a March 8 attack, and Georgia Equality, the statewide gay rights lobby. An organizer of the Cocktail Sip announced the amount raised in a message to its Facebook group.

Turning the evening into a fundraiser was the work of Take Back Georgia, which formed in the wake of the Evans’ attack. The group is also pushing a petition urging the passage of a hate crimes law in Georgia, though the legislative effort again failed this session under the Gold Dome. Some 232 signed the online petition by Friday afternoon.

Georgia Equality was named a beneficiary of a portion of the funds to support the group’s lobbying work at the Gold Dome on behalf of hate crimes legislation. The group was one of three to sponsor a Lobby Day at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

Evans was attacked nearly two weeks ago in Midtown after an evening of drinking with friends at Blake’s on the Park. Since the attack, conflicting accounts from Evans and the Atlanta Police Department have cast a cloud over the details and whether it was an anti-gay hate crime, as Evans and a family member charged in the days after the attack. Atlanta police have said they are investigating the attack, but are “not taking a stand either way” about whether the incident is a bias crime.

The APD is “not taking a stand either way” about whether the alleged attack is a hate crime, Harris said March 16. On March 11, after interviewing the victim, Harris first said the attack was a hate crime. She recanted later that day and said the police were investigating the attack as a “possible hate crime.”

“There is a surveillance camera showing [victim John Evans] going to the parking lot behind Blake’s about 10 p.m. but nothing else,” Harris said.

“The case is still under investigation, but we are not going to take a stand either way [on whether the alleged attack is a hate crime],” Harris said.

With conflicting details about the crime and surveillance video that shows only Evans and not his attackers, the police investigation has little to go on. Police did tell Southern Voice, though, that the attack does not appear to be the work of the Midtown Mugger.

Harris said the attack on Evans does not seem to be the work of the “Midtown Mugger,” the name given to a man who mugged several people in the Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street area late last year. No suspects or arrests have been made in that case.

Harris did add the muggings stopped after the media reported on the crimes in November.

“The MO is different in [Evans’ case] because there are two suspects here, and in that case there is only one,” Harris said.

Photo: Evans photo by Laura Douglas-Brown, Southern Voice

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