A gay couple was bashed by three men on the sidewalk near their home early on Sunday morning in NE D.C. Michael Joel Hall (l), a popular yoga instructor in the District, and his partner, Michael Roike (r), were ambushed by three men, according to MYFOXDC. The couple had been driven to their neighborhood at about 2 a.m. and were walking to their home on 3rd and T Streets NE when the attack materialized seemingly out of nowhere. Investigators say that the three bashers were yelling anti-gay slurs as they pressed their assault against the couple. Police are investigating the case as a probable anti-gay hate crime.
Both Hall and Roike were injured in the assault. Hall’s injuries were by far the most severe, suffering a broken cheek bone and fractured face where one of the assailants struck him. Roike’s mother says that the couple would surely have been killed if passers-by had not shouted at the attackers and rushed to the scene. The thugs escaped with a cell phone belonging to one of the victims. Hall was rushed to Howard University Hospital where he underwent surgery to repair his shattered face on Monday.
Because Hall has no health insurance and lost his apartment in a recent fire, friends in the yoga community and Hall’s students have created a Facebook page, “Friends of Michael Joel Hall and Michael Roike,” and established a fund to help defray his medical expenses. The response of the community has been heartening to the couple. Cobalt/30 degrees is hosting a fundraiser for Hall on Thursday evening, and Flow Yoga in Logan Circle is hosting a “In the Name of Love” fundraiser on Friday night. The Facebook page has details about both these events and the MJH Fund on PayPal.
A local blog, dcist, reports that this hate crime attack is part of a disturbing pattern in the nation’s capital. Numbers of anti-gay hate crimes have spiked alarmingly in recent months. Of the 57 confirmed hate crime attacks in the District in 2011, 37 of them targeted LGBTQ people. In March of this year, hundreds of members of the gay community and straight allies marched from Columbia Heights to Georgia Avenue to draw attention the issue and demand an end to the senseless violence. As of this writing, there is no report of an arrest in the case.
A guard was shot in the arm and thankfully stopped the shooter before he went further. The shooter reportedly made some remarks about the FRC’s mission before opening fire. Also, the suspect had a legally obtained weapon.
The “family values” crowd is out in full force on the internet and cable news blaming GLBTQ people and organizations for this, and claiming this is another example of the war on religion. Bullets are not the way to push back against socially conservative hate groups and only rally people to their cause.
I fear the gay bashings may get worse. Please, stay safe, my friends.