Police are investigating whether two men who say they were attacked and called a homophobic slur at the start of Pride Month in San Francisco were the victims of a hate crime.
Griffin Murray, a 27-year-old man from San Francisco, allegedly struck the men in the face after using the derogatory word against them early Sunday morning outside a bar in South of Market, police said Tuesday.
The attack was reported at around 12:50 p.m. outside the Southside Spirit House at 575 Howard St., just blocks away from where the California Democratic Party was holding its annual convention at the Moscone Center.
The victims were leaving the bar after attending the convention when the assailant used the slur, slapped one of them and “beat the other victim until he bled,” according to Tiffany Woods, co-chair of the party’s LGBT Caucus.
Woods called on police and prosecutors to “fully investigate and prosecute this violence for what it is: a homophobic assault and battery.”
“Homophobia has no place in our communities, not in San Francisco, not anywhere,” Woods said in a statement. “We stand with these two victims and look forward to an appropriate response from local authorities that sends a strong signal to the public that this behavior is unacceptable and illegal.”
Murray was cited and released on two counts of misdemeanor battery after officers detained him nearby, according to police.
He has not been charged with a hate crime.
On Monday, police said the Special Investigations Division had been assigned to investigate the case as a possible hate crime. The District Attorney’s Office is expected to review the case with investigators in the future.
N’dea Johnson, a friend of the victims, described the attack in more detail in a post on social media. Johnson called the suspect a “drunken belligerent man” who slapped one of her friends before shoving the other’s head into a wall.
“I want to say I’m surprised but I’m not, and the incident was not only a stark reminder of how vulnerable our LGBT community is but the work that needs to be done to ensure that we are protecting them at all cost,” Johnson said.
In response to the statement, local Democratic party chair David Campos called for a “full and swift investigation” into the attack as a hate crime.
“San Francisco has a long history of embracing the LGBTQ Community and has zero tolerance for any homophobic, transphobic or racist act,” Campos said Sunday on Facebook. “Unfortunately, hate still exists in our society, especially in these times, and even here in progressive San Francisco.”