NEW YORK (CBS/AP) The Stonewall Inn became a touchstone of the gay rights movement in the 70s after a clash between the NYPD and patrons led to protests which led to a movement. And now, amidst a seeming anti-gay crime wave, it has again been thrust into the media spotlight after a brutal attack occurred in the bar's bathroom.
Police say that a patron at the famous bar was attacked by two men in the bathroom after one of the men, Matthew Francis, told the victim not to use the urinal next to him because he didn't like gay men.
Francis then allegedly demanded money from the victim. When the victim refused to give it to them, Francis and his co-defendant, Christopher Orlando, allegedly attacked him, knocking him to the ground and punching him until he was able to get free and escape the bathroom - but not before getting in a few punches of his own.
The victim of the attack, Benjamin Carver, has come forward, posting praise for the police and bar patrons who moved quickly to apprehend his alleged attackers online, calling them "the real heroes." The 34-year-old, who was visiting the big Apple from Washington D.C. with his boyfriend, writes that he bears no ill-will towards the city itself. He even posted "New York, I still love you" on his Facebook page as he was being stitched up in the ER.
The frightening attack came little more than a day after a group of male friends bidding an affectionate good night to each other were attacked in another anti-gay assault elsewhere in Manhattan, prosecutors said. Gay rights activists say the attack is made all the more upsetting because of where, and when, it took place.
The attacks came amid heightened attention to anti-gay bullying following a string of suicides attributed to it last month, including the death of Tyler Clementi, a New Jersey college student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge, Sept. 22, after his sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room was secretly streamed online.
Some gay rights advocates hope that the fact that an anti-gay attack happened in a place known for a defining moment in the history of gay rights will spur a new push for tolerance.
As for Carver, he seems to be pushing for tolerance, even for his attackers whom he says he has already forgiven. In a post on his blog about the incident he says, "we must be better than these bullies."
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