On Tuesday, The Stranger reported that a potential hate incident directed at an LGBTQ bar in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle ended with a police officer telling the patrons to "work on respecting" a group of a dozen people who allegedly came to shout slurs at them on April 30.
"'They obviously came with intent to rile up a crowd of people,' says Kim (not their real name), who was present and tried to de-escalate the conflict. 'They started out being like, ‘all you fags are going to hell.’ … Once they saw that they were getting a reaction they escalated,'" reported Matt Baume. "The rhetoric wasn’t religious, Kim says — just hateful. There were around fifty to sixty people standing in line for the bar, and tensions quickly flared. Eventually, one woman ran out of the crowd to kick the group’s portable speaker, and that’s when the pepper spray came out."
"The spray hit the right side of Kim’s face, blinding them," continued the report. "'I start freaking out,' they say. 'I hear very chaotic motions. I can hear, ‘what the fuck?’ I can’t see at all.' Kim staggered to a wall and knelt down in pain. Their friends gathered around, and carefully guided them down the street to get some water and wash out their eyes. It was about 45 minutes before Kim could open their eyes."
According to the report, police were summoned, but did not arrest any of the people who had been shouting slurs or deployed pepper spray — but did arrest the woman who kicked over the portable speaker, after they alleged this was a religious hate crime.
"'I did not observe or gather evidence that proved this was biased,' wrote an officer, who was not identified, in a report. They added, 'I concluded my investigation by explaining to both groups that people are free to make statements and that they need to work on respecting each other statements and views.'"
Anti-gay hate crimes have been gaining national attention around the country. In March, a New York man repeatedly punched a gay man on the subway while shouting slurs. And in April, a California man was charged with robbing 21 men he targeted through the gay dating app Grindr.