It depends on who you ask...

Hate Crime or Crime Fighting?

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Activists protested outside a Salt Lake City courthouse yesterday following the arrest of David James Bell, a local drag performer whom they claim is the victim of anti-gay violence. Police say otherwise. Any way you cut it, this story’s one for the books:

[Bell] was beaten after he allegedly kidnapped the two children of a neighbor, and the father discovered the children in his house. His live-in boyfriend was also beaten severely after he tried to break up the fight.

Bell faces two charges of child kidnapping and one charge of burglary. His bail is currently set at $100,000, which was not changed during Tuesday’s hearing in 3rd District Court.

According to court documents, Bell took his neighbor’s 2-year-old and 4-year-old children from their home while they were sleeping early in the morning on July 4. The children were not harmed.

The protesters argued that the men were attacked because of their sexual orientation, a claim prosecutors dispute. No charges have been filed against the father.

Witnesses insist the children wandered over to Bell’s house after being disrupted by their parents’ late-night party, which was still going on at 6am, when the children were discovered missing.

Bell’s friends and defenders claim the neighbors reacted so rashly because of Bell’s sexuality. Said his attorney, “If the mother had gone to that house and found D.J. with his wife, this would not have happened. But they jumped to the conclusion [that], since he’s gay, he must also be a child molester.