San Diego Rally In Response To Pride Festival Attack

San Diego RallySAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – It was the kind of rally where police and politicians got standing ovations, a show of praise from a grateful community.
It was the kind of rally where hundreds of people crammed inside a stifling auditorium, a show of support for the men attacked after last weekend’s Pride festival and for each other.
It was the kind of rally that Michael Ann Meyer had to attend last night at the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center, surrounded by friends and others who were hurt and upset.
“It’s a healing kind of thing,” Meyer said. “You come in broken and you see everyone is broken.”
The “Standing Up to Violence” rally was in response to the hate-driven attacks in Balboa Park one week ago tonight. Six men were taunted with anti-gay insults and assaulted about 10:45 p.m. on Redwood Circle near the lawn bowling center east of Sixth Avenue and north of Laurel Street.
All six were injured and one remains hospitalized with a fractured skull. The victims have not been identified.
Police moved swiftly and have charged three men and one teenager in the attacks. All have pleaded not guilty.
“We can all breathe a bit more easily knowing these predators are off the street,” said Councilwoman Toni Atkins, whose District 3 includes Balboa Park.
Atkins, who received one of the loudest ovations, thanked the police and mayor for their fast response; the suspects were taken into custody almost within 48 hours. Atkins received regular updates on the investigation.Gay Couple
“To the victims, I want to say, your community is clearly here for you,” she told the crowd.
Many of the speakers talked about the need for the city to rally against hate crimes and to unite.
Nicole Murray Ramirez, a gay activist, announced that a fund has been established to compensate those who come forward with information about hate crimes against any group. Several gay and lesbian businesses have given a total of $35,000 for the fund, which will work in partnership with Crime Stoppers.
“Anyone who commits any hate crime on any group will have a bounty on their head,” he said.
Ramirez also announced that a citizens patrol will be present at next year’s Pride weekend festivities. That way, no one will walk alone, he said.
Mayor Jerry Sanders promised to continue fighting hate crimes against any group. Sanders said last Saturday’s attack was a way to keep the victims and the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community in the closet.
“We won’t allow that to occur,” he told the crowd. “And it won’t occur.”
City Attorney Michael Aguirre said his office, which is not handling the prosecutions, will issue an in-depth report on the attacks.
The rally lasted nearly 90 minutes and concluded with a candlelight march to Obelisk Bookstore on University Avenue. There, more people spoke to a cheering crowd.
The community center, at 3909 Centre St., was packed from the start. Police Chief William Lansdowne joked, “It’s a good thing I’m the police chief and not the fire marshal.”
Meyer said in the beginning she had to wait outside with a few hundred people. They couldn’t hear the speakers, but the cheering and applause was enough.
“This is a very, very good thing,” said Meyer, who eventually maneuvered into the auditorium.
For C. David Kulman, the rally and march were ways to show support for his community.
“I thought it was very good, very inspiring,” Kulman said.
from The San Diego Union-Tribune

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