Second gay attack alleged in Savannah

Add this share

imageA second gay man in Savannah is stepping forward with details of an alleged attack, though the victim has not reported the months-old incident to police.

John Takats says he was struck in the back of the head and called “faggot” by a group of four people during an incident early on Feb. 27. Neither he nor his boyfriend called police, but are now releasing details of the incident through Georgia Equality, a statewide gay rights group.

The case, made public through a press statement released Friday afternoon by Georgia Equality, comes in the wake of a gay man who was assaulted early Saturday in downtown Savannah.

In that incident, Kieran Daly, 26, was struck in the back of the head in an apparent confrontation with two Marines. Daly and his friends say the unprovoked attack took place after the Marines — Keil Joseph Cronauer, 22, Christopher Charles Stanzel, 23 — learned he was gay. The two men say they were subjected to unwanted verbal advances.

Both men were arrested minutes after the incident, charged with misdemeanor battery and are now restricted to their military base near Savannah. As local police continue their investigation, the FBI said Tuesday that it has opened a preliminary inquiry to see if the case may fall under the new federal law. The Marines are also investigating the incident.

On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League commended local and federal authorities for investigating whether the hate crime law applies to the case.

A rally is planned for Savannah’s Johnson Square at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

On Friday, the statement from Georgia Equality says Takats was reluctant to report the incident to police. Georgia Equality says subsequent attempts to report it were unsuccessful and the group called police “unresponsive.”

Although Takats admits that he was scared and did not immediately report the incident to police, he claims that he did attempt to report the attack to police several days later but that they were unresponsive. Takats has attempted to reach the LGBT police liaison this week to discuss the incident with her, but has not yet heard back from her.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police say Takats hasn’t filed an incident report about the alleged attack. Waiting several months to do so will make an investigation much more difficult, says Officer Gena Moore, a spokesperson for the police department.

“If he wants to file a police report, it is very easy to do,” Moore says. “There is no way to say we are not responsive if you want to file a police report. There are five precincts and headquarters. Clearly, filing a police report five or six months later is going to make it more difficult to solve a case that we have no witnesses for, that we have no physical evidence of. It’s always easier to solve a crime the fresher the crime is.”

Moore also disputes the group’s assertion that the department’s LGBT liaison hasn’t responded to calls about the Takats case. Moore says the officer spoke to Kevin Clark, director of Georgia Equality’s Savannah Chapter, when he called about the incident earlier this week.

“There is a long history of frustration and mistrust of the Chatham-Savannah Police Department within the local LGBT community,” Clark says in the press release. “There are several past instances of violence against LGBT individuals in the Savannah area in which the local police have been unresponsive or slow to respond. “

Georgia Equality says Takats is speaking about the attack now because of its similarities to Daly’s assault on Saturday. Takats told the group that one of his alleged attackers may be one of the men charged in the Daly assault, according to his full statement to the group.

The full press release from Georgia Equality:

A second gay man has come forward in Savannah stating that he is the victim of a hate crime. John Takats, a graduate student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, has issued a statement to Georgia Equality stating that he was beaten on the morning of February 27. According to Takats, his boyfriend had stepped away for a moment when a group of two men and two women approached him. One of the men allegedly asked him what he was looking at and then shouted ”faggot” as he swung at him. Takats was hit in the back of the head and kicked until he fell to the ground. At that point the attackers fled the scene. Takats’ partner returned to find him lying on the ground.

Although Takats admits that he was scared and did not immediately report the incident to police, he claims that he did attempt to report the attack to police several days later but that they were unresponsive. Takats has attempted to reach the LGBT police liaison this week to discuss the incident with her, but has not yet heard back from her.

He is speaking up now due to the similarities between the attack on him and last weekend’s attack on Kieran Daly.

“There is a long history of frustration and mistrust of the Chatham-Savannah Police Department within the local LGBT community,” said Kevin Clark, director of Georgia Equality’s Savannah Chapter. “There are several past instances of violence against LGBT individuals in the Savannah area in which the local police have been unresponsive or slow to respond. “

After a request on Monday, June 21, federal authorities, including the FBI, began their own investigation into the Savannah incident.

Georgia Equality is calling upon the Chatham-Savannah police to include information from Takats in their ongoing investigation of the attack on Kieran Daly. Georgia Equality is also calling upon our supporters throughout the state to urge the state legislature to introduce and pass a statewide hate crimes bill when the session convenes in 2011. Georgia is one of only five states in the country without a hate crimes statute. Although the passage of the federal Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes Act provides some level of protection and support, these recent incidents in Savannah point out the importance of providing local law enforcement officials with the tools, training and support they need to fully investigate and prosecute suspected hate crimes that are directed at individuals due to real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

The Savannah Chapter of Georgia Equality, along with a host of other local organizations and activists, have called for a Rally for Equal Protection to be held this Sunday, June 20 at Johnson Square in Savannah.

Takats’ full statement to Georgia Equality:

On or about February 27, 2010, I was with my partner enjoying a night out at Club One. We left Club One, somewhere around 2:30 a.m. We proceeded walking. I remember losing a glove and when noticed it missing, asked my partner to go retrieve it.

I was then standing alone near the corner of Bryan and Barnard Streets (near the new Ellis Square). At that time, a group of two males and two females began approaching, on foot, near my location. One of the men began shouting “What are you looking at?” I looked around and noticed that I was the only other person in the area and assumed that he must be talking to me. He then proceeded to begin calling me a “faggot” and various other slurs.

As the males approached me they started swinging. I immediately put up my hands, in front of my face, to protect myself. At that time, clearly out of nowhere, one of the males struck me in the back of my head. I was kicked till I fell to the ground by either the same (or the other) male. At that time, I heard one of the females scream “Stop that!” The group ran away from the scene. I was completely shocked, hurting and confused and I began crying.

At that point, my partner returned and found me on the ground crying. I called my mother immediately to let her know what had just happened. She urged me to call the police right away. Because of my emotional condition I simply did not feel that I could do it at that time.

Upon my mother’s urging, I subsequently went to the main police barracks on Oglethorpe and Abercorn, the following Monday or Tuesday to make a report. I entered the barracks at the front entrance and went to the main desk at the glass window, on the left. A female officer was there. I explained that I had come to file a report about a crime that had already occurred. She began questioning what kind of crime.

During my conversation with her a male police officer from the other side of the lobby interrupted and said “I’ll take care of this.”

He asked me to step outside with him to discuss the matter. He lit up a cigarette and began asking about details of the incident. Early on, in our discussion, he interrupted and began saying, “You must have somehow provoked this attack. You must have done something to upset these individuals. There must be more to this story, etc. etc. You must know that there are lots of military types around here and this thing happens a lot. Don’t worry about it. It really won’t do any good at this point, so let’s just forget the whole matter.”

I was very dismayed, felt that I had no further recourse and left the barracks, without them accepting my formal complaint.

I then felt that not only had I been assaulted on the street, but that I was further violated by our Police just because of who I am.

I did nothing further about this matter because I truly felt that nothing could be done. When my mother heard about the incident of June 12th, she called my attention to a report that displayed a picture of the attackers.

I was surprised to find that one of the attackers looked familiar. Furthermore, the circumstances surrounding the June 12th attack strongly resembled the circumstances revolving around my attack. I believe that at least one of my attackers may have been one of the attackers in the June 12th incident but I cannot be sure.

My mother then called Jeff Graham, Executive Director of Georgia Equality in Atlanta, and told him about my incident in Savannah and the similarities. Jeff Graham then called Kevin Clark, Director of the Savannah Chapter of Georgia Equality, who then called me and to whom I gave this account.

THE LATEST

Project Q Atlanta goes on hiatus after 14 years

On Sept. 1, 2008, Project Q Atlanta promised a hyper-local “queer media diet” for Atlanta. The site set out to bring LGBTQ news, in-depth...

Photos catch Purple Dress Run invading Midtown

After three years of pandemic-inflicted limitations, Atlanta’s gay rugby squad let loose on one of its most popular events. The Atlanta Bucks Purple Dress...

Ooo Bearracuda: Photos from Bear Pride’s Main Event

The seventh annual Atlanta Bear Pride hit the ground running on Friday with packed houses at Woofs, Heretic and Future. Turned out, they hadn’t...

Atlanta Bear Pride set to go hard and long all weekend

That low, growing growl you hear is a nation of gay bears headed for Atlanta Bear Pride this weekend. By the time they arrive,...

PHOTOS: Armorettes bring back Easter Drag Race magic

Gay Atlanta’s queens of do-good drag brought the sunshine to a cloudy afternoon on Saturday when Heretic hosted the triumphant return of Armorettes Easter...
17,446FansLike
7,001FollowersFollow
7,682FollowersFollow

PHOTO GALLERIES