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Aug 10, 2007
V 35 Issue 32

 
 
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Gay-bashing in Belltown
Gay-bashing in Belltown
Victim questions police professionalism

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer It started off a typical night out for Michael Wrenn, 47-years-old, and his friend Aaron Hudy, 32-years-old. However, the evening went terribly wrong while they were walking home from the Belltown neighborhood just before midnight on Saturday, August 4. Wrenn recounted to Seattle Gay News this week that he was brutally attacked because he is Gay.

As the pair passed a group of five or six guys standing along the street in the 2200 block of First Avenue, one of the men offered Hudy $20 to tell another man in his group, who was peeing, that he had a "red-fox penis." Hudy declined and the pair kept walking. Then, the man who was peeing approached the two and, using derogatory remarks, asked if the men were Gay.

"He stopped peeing, came over to us and said, 'What are you guys, fags?' ... He pushed me and I kind of moved over to the right. Mike was smaller than me so he was probably [seen as] an easier target," explains Hudy. "Mike was like 'Yeah, I'm Gay. What's your problem.' He pushed my friend down to the ground and just started attacking him with punches. As soon as my friend said, 'Yeah, I'm Gay,' the guy started attacking him."

Ending the attack, the men fled but Hudy followed them for four or five blocks. On the chase, all the time talking to 911 on his cellular phone, he led police to the friends of the suspect. The primary attacker got away, but police did obtain the name of the suspect from the attacker's friends.

At the beating scene, medics treated Wrenn, who had a bloody nose and cuts to his chin and forearm. Later, he would develop two black eyes and bruises on his body as a result of the violence.

What happened next, they say, has shaken their faith in the professionalism of certain officers within the Seattle Police Department. "He (the on-scene cop) was sitting in his car asking us questions. He seemed to be acting as though he was inconvenienced, like 'Whatever, it is just another little attack or something.' Like, 'go away,' that sort of thing," says Hudy.

Both men say they repeatedly told officers that they believed the incident to be a hate crime, motivated by Wrenn's sexual orientation. "When the officer interviewed me near his car, I made it clear that the only reason that the guy came after me was for being Gay," says Wrenn. "That is the only reason he came after me. There was no other subject matter involved. ... Later on in the interview, the officer said to me that being Gay "is your issue."

The same officer who spoke with Wrenn and Hudy, later wrote a police report, which makes no mention of the attackers anti-Gay derogatory remarks or his bias-based motive. The incident was classified as simple assault and the "bias crime" box was unchecked. Wrenn said he was "shocked" after reading a copy of the offical police report provided by the SGN.

"I had blood all over me. I was in shock. I didn't have time to cross all the T's and dot all the I's, but I made it very clear that it was a hate crime," he said. "I am shocked. Just, literally, shocked. There is no mention, not even one little use of the word "Gay" in the police report. With so many officers involved in taking down information, it is absolutely shocking."

During a phone interview, an spokesman for the SPD refused to question the actions of the officer or the preparation of the police report. "All we have here is an assault. There is nothing to indicate it is a bias crime," said Mark Jamieson, a SPD spokesperson, on Wednesday morning. "If the victim contacts us with further information, then we will look into it."

Hudy and Wrenn say they had been trying to reach the police for several days without any response. They called the number of the arresting officer on Sunday afternoon and twice again on Monday and yet again Tuesday. On the morning of Wednesday, August 8, Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen asked the SPD to look into the incident. That afternoon, a message on Wrenn's answering machine notified him that a bias crimes detective was being assigned to the case.

"We have been working with the police department to find out what they are doing and what they know now," Rasmussen told the SGN on Thursday. "We must take Gay-bashing seriously, whether it is on Capitol Hill, in Belltown or any other part of the city. We know that no part of the city is immune." Wrenn says he and Hudy just want justice for the "horrific" experience they endured. "I just hope that people who do crimes like this think very, very, hard before doing things like this to another individual because people will prosecute and do the right thing," he said.

The police had made no arrest in the case by press time.

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