El Paso Police Disagree With FBI Over Gay Bar Bashing’s “Hate Crime” Status. Who’s Right?

The FBI has arrested a 16-year-old boy connected to the severe beating of an El Paso man outside of a gay bar. The victim’s sister says the attackers shouted anti-gay slurs during the attack and the FBI is investigating the case as a hate crime, but even so El Paso spokesman Darrel Petry said “the assault did not meet the criteria as a hate crime because it was not motivated by a bias against gays.” Is it any wonder that local gays don’t trust the local police? Let’s take a closer look at the El Paso Police Department’s general worthlessness:

According to El Paso native, “everyday gender bender. artist, photographer, and all around glamazon” Adam Ulloa the local police department sits literally right around the corner from the bar where the beating took place. In response to the police’s alleged failure to react quickly and the lack of national media coverage, Ulloa wrote an an open letter to the local PD expressing his exasperation:

From what I have gathered from others within the community, the alleged gathering of individuals who purportedly invoked this specific act of violence against said young man had been asked repeatedly to vacate the premises, and now currently have opted to frequent the street in front of a nearby church, drinking, blasting music from their vehicles, and generally plague passers by. How this group is allowed to do so without any kind of intervention by any neighboring authorities is unclear to me. They apparently sit on the steps and verbally harass whomever they feel necessary…

As I mentioned, I have been a patron of these establishments for over ten years, and would like to mention something you, The El Paso Times, did not. The Old Plantation is located on the corner of Ochoa and Paisano, two blocks away from the El Paso County Jail, several El Paso Police Department offices, a central command center and a fire station. With all of the law enforcement within walking distance of the incident, why is it no one was able to stop it from happening? Why did it take authorities and emergency personnel such an extended amount of time to respond? Why is this not being treated at the blatant HATE CRIME that it is? Are we to believe that simply because our establishments are aimed at serving the gay community they require less security, less involvement?…

The events that took place Friday, May 6, 2011 are supposedly quite vaguely represented in the media, as both the El Paso Police Department and the local media coverage have remained almost silent – regardless, it is generally felt, that as a police station and the El Paso County Jail are within walking distance, the absence of police is inexcusable.

Ex-police officer and head of Night Eyes Protective Services Fernando Rodriguez Sr. says, “People are really afraid. These are gang members who are only out to cause problems. The Police Department, they do what they can, but they can’t go out and harass people just for standing outside a club.” As a result Rodriguez says that “Most of the gang members hanging by the [Old Plantation gay bar] are juveniles who, when arrested by police, may only be cited and released to a parent or guardian and return the next night.”

Jonathan Kennedy, chairman of the gay-rights group Rio Grande Adelante, echoes Rodriguez’s sentiments saying that hate crimes against gays that may be going unreported because of a lack of trust in police. “It’s an issue. It’s not something that just started yesterday. We hope and pray to God that young man lives.” The 22-year-old victim has still not regained consciousness since the Sunday attack.