Atlantic Station fumbles response to gay assault
A gay man attacked in Atlantic Station on Saturday needed the help of friends to convince reluctant security guards to take action and document the incident, which required medical treatment and five stitches.
Paul Swicord, a friend of the victim, described the incident in a detailed email to media outlets on Sunday. Swicord is a founder of Lost N Found Youth, a non-profit that cares for homeless LGBT youth. He says the victim doesn’t want to be named until he discusses the incident with his family.
Swicord says that he did not witness the attack, but that he was present when the victim arrived at the Fenuxe Fire Party sometime after 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. He was apparently attacked as he walked from the underground parking deck to the former Fox Sports Grill on 19th Street where the event was being hosted.
“I was inside the party when the victim arrived with injuries and stayed with him through treatment at the emergency room,” Swicord says in his statement. “I have the blood stains on my shirt where I held him as he cried on my shoulder.”
The victim told Swicord that as he emerged from the parking deck, he asked a person on the street for directions.
“This man responded by asking, ‘Are you a fag?’ The victim answered, ‘Yes, I suppose I am’ and received a punch in the face so hard it threw him to the ground and requiring medical attention,” Swicord says.
The victim entered the Fire Party after the attack and met with Swicord, who urged him to file a police report. An event organizer ushered Swicord and the victim to the front door of the venue where they talked with an Atlantic Station security guard. But the officer attempted to eject Swicord and the victim and, when told the man was attacked, the guard was reluctant to take action, Swicord says.
“At first, [he] informed asked us to leave the property because of an incident. I was lucky enough to catch the attention of the facility manager and asked him, why we were being thrown out? He quickly jumped in and instructed the security guard that we need to file a report,” Swicord says.
The security officer recorded basic details of the incident but said it could take up to six weeks before a report would be available. When Swicord attempted to take a photo of the officer, he held up his hand to block the photo. The Atlantic Station guard was also hesitant to notify Atlanta police, who have a mini-precinct in the retail center.
“There was no compassion in this security officer for the victim. He was reluctant to take a report and document the incident,” Swicord says.
Swicord also says that an off-duty uniformed Atlanta police officer was hesitant to take action or file a report. But Swicord says he and Philip Rafshoon, a longtime LGBT activist and business owner, insisted and called Atlanta police LGBT liaison Officer Brian Sharp, who spoke with the off-duty officer.
“Only after that did the attitudes seem to change and Grady EMS was called and an on duty APD officer came on scene,” Swicord says.
Atlanta police confirmed the basic details of the incident on Sunday, but could not provide a detailed account of what took place. A spokesperson says officers responded, but the assailant had fled on foot.
Officials with Fenuxe, which hosted the event, were notified of the attack, Swicord says. The media outlet has posted about the Fire Party on Sunday but has not addressed the gay bashing. Officials with Atlantic Station could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday.
Swicord says the victim was cut above his right eye and needed five stitches as he was treated at Emory University Hospital Midtown. He also suffered a bruise below his eye, which may have been caused when he fell to the ground after being punched.
“Hours after the incident the victim began feeling more of the pain of what he went through as the surge of adrenaline from the attack wore off. We departed the emergency room at about 5 a.m.,” Swicord says.
The victim told Swicord that his attacker was a white man with a muscular build was between 5’9” and 6’ tall. The assailant was accompanied by a female.
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