LGBTQ community bands together after hate crime reports
Online accounts of violent hate crimes against sexual minority members have roiled Portland's LGBTQ+ community.
The response from the Portland Police Bureau, who said they have not confirmed the crimes occurred or made any arrests, spurred as many as 500 Portlanders to gather for their own town hall organized by the Q Center on Sunday, Feb. 24.
While the media was asked not to identify those inside, the Tribune spoke with two attendees outside the Portand Institute for Contemporary Art, 15 N.E. Hancock St, where the event was located. They asked not to be identified.
"I feel that our community has been violated, and we need to do something urgently," said one.
"There's a lot of anger, and there's a lot of hurt," the other added. "I feel this is more of an illumination of a greater problem in Portland."
The Tribune has not been able to confirm the accounts circulating online — but the resulting fear and anguish felt by locals is all too real. In a statement, PPB Lt. Tina Jones told the Tribune that police have learned of only two attacks, which officers found by searching social media.
"Detectives have proactively been following up to attempt to identify any victims. At this time, we have not had any reports made to us," Lt. Jones wrote.
The Tribune also located the online accounts and sent out messages asking for comment, but the people involved did not respond. They did not appear to respond to other media requests.
In the first account, a woman named Theresa Thompson wrote on an online fundraiser that a woman named Sophie was hit in the head with a baseball bat while walking home from Crush Bar, a popular spot for LGBTQ people, on Feb. 10. near Southeast 15th Avenue and Morrison Street.
"She was found unconscious on the sidewalk after this brutal and aggressively blatant hate crime targeted toward a trans individual in this area," the GoFundMe stated.
So far, about $10,000 has been raised for the recovery efforts of the victim. Portland Police, however, said in a press release that the victim seemed intoxicated and that an officer believed the person was injured in an accidental fall.
"The victim called to make an assault report later from the hospital. Initially it was not reported as a bias attack, but online posts suggested the victim believed it may have been," according to the news release.
In the second account, writer Jenny Bruso wrote that her partner, Brie, was attacked by two men in a car near Southeast 7th and Madison on Feb. 17. She said the men threw an unopened beer bottle at Brie, causing her to fall and hurt her face.
"Terrified this may happen to someone else or worse. Please be aware of your surroundings and let your networks know about any suspicious behavior," Bruso wrote.
Cameron Whitten, executive director of the Q Center, says that the organization offers members of the community a way to report crimes without directly interfacing with the police.
"We are truly feeling the pain of our community right now," Whitten said. "We are outraged that homophobia and transphobia is still a violent weapon used against our community"
He continued: "We have fought so successfully to be a part of this community, to be visible, to be beautiful, but this is what we continue to face every day."
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