Sunday, November 18, 2012

Key West Police Move November 10 Anti-Gay Hate Crime Attack To Front Of Agency’s Investigations

In Florida, the beating of two men on November 10 that Key West police have called a hate crime has been pushed to the front of the agency's investigations. "The whole Police Department is focused on this," Mayor Craig Cates said. John Stutter, 33, and Nicholas Leddy, 31, a gay couple from Brooklyn, had attended a wedding for two friends at the Hemingway House on Whitehead Street. Later on, around 2:00 am, they were walking down Duval Street when a young man came up from behind and called them "faggots." Officer Jeffrey Dean wrote in a report that after the epithet was spoken, "Stutter said the unknown male then punched him in the neck." Stutter said he was then put in a headlock and punched "several times" in the head. After a passing woman intervened, the attacker walked away but then returned and punched Leddy behind his left ear before taking off down Duval for good, Dean wrote. They described their alleged attacker as a clean-shaven white man with short, dark hair, about 5-foot-9 and in his early 20s. Police says there is possibly video footage recorded by a security camera outside Willie T's in the 500 block of Duval, but police spokeswoman Alyson Cream declined to comment on the case. "The detectives do not discuss while it's still open and under investigation," she said. However, Cates said "I'm very serious about this. We don't want any crime but hate crimes ... they're crimes for a senseless reason." He pointed out that Key West hosts some 2.5 million visitors per year and that there's no indication at this point whether the alleged attacker is a local or from out of town. Contained in those visitor figures are a large number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender tourists who have long flocked to Key West for the non-judgmental attitude. The Florida Attorney General's Office tracks hate crimes statewide, with the most recent figures coming from 2010; that year there were 149 reported hate crimes in Florida. According to an annual report, "Hate crimes motivated by the victim's race represented 46.3 percent of all reported hate crimes, followed by sexual orientation at 21.5-percent, religion at 19.5-percent and ethnicity/national origin at 12.7-percent. No hate crimes were reported under the categories of physical disability, mental disability or advanced age." Florida law allows for enhanced penalties against defendants found guilty of committing a hate crime.

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