After a recent spree of attacks on gay men in Long Beach, people are taking action.
The Long Beach Police Department amped security in the city's Broadway Corridor -- the section of downtown known for its thriving gay community, where all three incidents occurred.
And, the community itself plans to convene tomorrow evening at a coffee shop in the area to decry the violence, which many are calling hate crimes.
On July 24, a man allegedly walked up to another man, asked if he was gay, and then beat him after the victim answered in the affirmative, says Sgt. Rico Fernandez
, a spokesman for the police department. Police arrested a suspect, Jorge Jhovanoy Ibarria
, that night and the District Attorney's office has filed one felony count of battery with a hate crime enhancement against Ibarria, Fernandez says.
A few days later, a male suspect approached another man who was walking on a sidewalk in the area, Fernandez says. The two men exchanged some words and then the suspect hit the victim and left, Fernandez says. The suspect used some slurs during the exchange, but police don't believe the violence started because the victim was gay, Fernandez says. Therefore, police are considering it a hate incident, but not a hate crime.
The third incident, which happened Sunday, involved two groups. Two suspects approached a group of gay men and made some derogatory comments, which led to a fistfight, Fernandez says. The two suspects then left, but came back with more people and assaulted the victims. Police haven't classified the incident yet, as the investigation is ongoing, Fernandez says. Nobody is currently in custody for the second or third incidents.
Despite the proximity of the incidents -- all within a few days of one another and all in the same basic area -- the police don't think they're related. "We think it's just an unfortunate series of events," Fernandez says, adding that hate crimes are very rare in Long Beach. "This year alone we've only had four hate crimes."
"We have extra patrols. We beefed up patrol in the area. Obviously the Long Beach PD is concerned with protecting all citizens equally," Fernandez says.
The Facebook page says Mayor Bob Foster, Councilman Robert Garcia and Eric Avila, one of the victims, will all be at the event tomorrow.