Covington, KY is taking a stand against recent anti-gay hate crimes

There have been a series of anti-gay attacks in Covington, Kentucky over the past few weeks:

Recent crimes targeting gay people in Covington spurred the Covington City Commission and more than 80 people to gather Tuesday at city hall to decry hate crimes and reaffirm support for the human rights ordinance the city passed in 2003.

Police said they have increased patrols in MainStrasse and will start tracking incidents of ethnic and anti-gay slurs and hate speech.

A group of residents has also formed “Zero Tolerance for Hate Crimes in Covington” and will host an event at six bars in MainStrasse on Saturday to raise money for an anti-hate campaign.

“We have had three incidents in the last several months and it has got to stop now, said Mayor Denny Bowman.

When a local tv reporter was doing a story on this issue — at mid-day in the downtown area — occupants of two cars yelled anti-gay slurs as they drove by. Video here.

But, as the mayor said, it has to stop. One recent attack seems to have galvanized the community and residents are organizing against the hate. Check out the facebook page for Zero Tolerance for Hate Crimes in Covington. It’s already got over 1200 fans. And, I got a press release and flier from the organizers of “Covington’s Night Out: A Night of United Community”::

Although there have been multiple instances in the area of violence aimed at gays, the recent attack by two men against two local women has shocked the entire Covington community into taking action. What began as a concern for gays & lesbians in the area has gained support from all members of the Covington community.

Around 1:00 am on Sunday August 15, a group of people were assaulted at the corner of Pike St. and Main St. near Yadda Club, a well known gay bar. The perpetrators, one tattooed with swasticas and a white supremacy mark, yelled hate slurs aimed at gays and lesbians. One of the women was beaten, and several bystanders who came to the rescue were knifed.

The attack drew sympathy and support from all members of the community, who began organizing to make a change. The facebook page “Zero Tolerance for Hate Crimes in Covington” clearly shows the attitude of the community, having reached over 1,100 supporters in the 10 days since it was created.

Now the group of concerned residents, patrons, and business owners are taking that energy and outrage forward in a positive way by creating an ongoing campaign to empower the community as a whole to embrace diversity, promote tolerance, and end violence and hate of any kind through education and communication.

Saturday August 28th ,“Covington’s Night Out: A Night of United Community” will be the first event associated with this movement. Six of the predominantly gay or gay-friendly bars in the Pike St. and Mainstrasse area will team up with the Covington Police Department to reclaim the streets as LGBT friendly, and raise funds for an ongo- ing campaign.

Turns out, the sister of one of my friends was a victim of that August 15th attack. She’s okay and has been instrumental in organizing the response.

The hate crimes really, really suck. The community response is really, really encouraging. Go Covington.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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