Members of Allentown's LGBTQ community met behind closed doors Thursday night to talk about solutions to the apparent gay-bashing incident early Saturday morning in Allentown that left several people hurt outside a popular pizza business.
Mike Slater said he and a friend were walking home along Allen Street Saturday when they were attacked by a group of at least three people. He is recovering. A man who tried to help also was beaten.
Buffalo Police are working with surveillance video of the incident to identify the attackers, although Slater said he did not see his actual beating when shown the video by investigating officers. Apparently there was a similar incident a few minutes earlier in nearby Days Park, as well.
Slater said his close friend Raven Hillyard encouraged him to go public and file a police report. She posted the following on Facebook:
"This may be more than what we initially thought, from my understanding there's been a group of men menacing that area for three weeks- they've been harassing women, in restaurants; outside and they robbed someone (there may have been a weapon.) If you think you may have any relevant information pertaining to these please let us know. Don't let these guys terrorize the area."
"We need to do something about this 'cause, at first, I was just like, 'I need a little time to recover and like collect my thoughts,'" Slater said. "She was the backbone of this, so I am very thankful she supported me, mentally, physically and financially, little joke. It's an outpour. More cases are still rising."
Hillyard also posted photos of the attack on Facebook. Slater said the neighborhood remains a good place to live.
"It's not a bad area, just a bad incident, so I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable in the area, 'cause it's the most accepting part for the arts," Slater said. "Just getting everyone together in the LGBT community. I don't want people to stop coming to the area."
Slater attended Thursday's meeting of Queers for Racial Justice in Ol' Wondermoth, near the site of the incident. Group co-founder Harper Bishop said they want a better solution than just adding police patrols.
"In no way are we not saying that there's times where there should be law enforcement and intervention when there's something going down. We would never advocate for people not calling the police," Bishop said. "All we're saying is we don't need increased patrols and we can solve our own issues, at times. That's not always but I just refuse to believe that the answer is always more police."
Bishop said he was attacked last summer along Allen Street by a man with a knife and did not like the way police investigated the case. He said it left him feeling there has to be a community solution, not a police solution, to attacks on gays.