Gay Obama supporters assaulted in D.C.

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Two gay men said an unidentified man assaulted them on election night as they carried a rainbow flag to an outdoor gathering near the White House to celebrate Barack Obama’s presidential victory.

Channel 7 News, which captured part of the assault on videotape, reported that police arrested the assailant on a charge of assault. A broadcast report of the incident noted that the two victims believed the attacker approached them on the street after he left a Republican Party gathering at the Capital Hilton Hotel.

Acting Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the D.C. police Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit, could not confirm whether an arrest had been made, but said detectives were following up on the case after police took a report from the victims.

Parson said officers taking the report did not initially classify the incident as a hate crime, but he expected a follow-up report to list the assault as a bias-related crime based on the victims’ sexual orientation and political affiliation.

The two victims — Zack Pesavento and Steve Kensinger — told Channel 7 that the assailant rushed toward them as they walked past the Capital Hilton Hotel, located at 16th and K streets. They said they were heading to a park near the White House to join an impromptu celebration of Obama’s victory.

According to the Channel 7 report, the men believed the attacker was leaving a Republican National Committee sponsored party at the Capital Hilton, where a crowd of Republicans rooted for GOP presidential candidate John McCain.

The two men told Channel 7 in an on-camera interview that the attacker lunged at them and grabbed the rainbow flag that one of them was carrying.

“When I tried to grab it away from him, he started hitting me, trying to attack me,” Kensinger said in the taped interview. “He was very aggressive and very threatening and it definitely scared me.”

A camera operator, who stood near the spot where the incident unfolded, captured the last part of the assault on videotape. Channel 7 posted a video clip of the incident on its website.

Read the full story from the Washington Blade.

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