by Jamie Hale
It was a normal Saturday night for one Pocatello man, but a night of dancing that ended in a vicious attack has actually helped many in the community unite against hatred and violence.
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he left Club Charley’s, a bar that caters to the LGBT community, early Sunday morning to drive home, but ended up being attacked by three men outside the bar in what he, and many in the community, are considering a hate crime.
The altercation began when he first left the bar. A few guys were outside, calling him a “fag” and a “queer,” but he said he didn’t respond. A friend of his came to his defense, which led to one of the men running into him. It wasn’t that a big of a deal, he said, but when he got to his car he realized he dropped his ID back by the bar. When he went back to get it, he was jumped.
“I’m kind of a small little dude compared to these guys,” he said. “They were just so overpowering, I just didn’t get a chance to do anything.” The three-against-one fight ended after a few minutes and left the victim with a badly-bruised upper cheekbone, a bruised jawbone and some bruising to his stomach and chest, he said.
“I guess you could call it a numbing experience. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, every hit wasn’t physical pain, it was kind of a surreal thing that was happening,” he said.
Fortunately, growing up in a rough-and-tumble family with a lot of siblings meant the attack wasn’t as bad for him as it could have been. But the apparent motivation made it especially heinous. While the three men assaulted him, they repeatedly called him a “faggot,” he said. Throw in the fact that he is openly gay and was outside a gay bar and you get what many would consider a hate crime.
In fact, the entire LGBT community, and many throughout the whole community of Pocatello, have been coming together to help find information on the attackers in an attempt to bring them to justice.
Gina Lee, a close friend of the victim’s older sister, wrote a Facebook post the day after the attack offering $50 for any information on the incident. In the two days since, she said she has received $900, as well as other gifts, like a tattoo certificate, from other individuals looking to find answers.
“It’s freaking crazy, actually,” said Lee. “It’s amazing how sad it is and how horrible a thing it is, but it’s amazing how the community has pulled together for this.”
Lee said she felt inspired to help because of the attack’s sheer atrocity. In her eyes, sexual preference is no reason to gang up on somebody. “He’s somebody’s son, he’s somebody’s brother, he’s somebody’s uncle, it doesn’t matter who he makes out with.”
While she’s confident the money will lead to information, she said she can only pray that the Pocatello Police will follow through on the case. The victim said he filed a report on Monday, but Pocatello Police Captain Jim Peterson said the case is in very preliminary stages so far.
Police responded to Charley’s after the attack but found nothing, he said. At this point, detectives have his report and will look into it soon.
The victim said the community response has been overwhelming. “That was probably one of the most touching things,” he said. “It’s very nice to know that I do have support in the community.”
Despite the support, he said he’s not so sure he’ll go dancing again just yet. “I want to go back again to be with my friends and enjoy my life,” he said. “I don’t want to worry if I’m going to make it home safe again.”
If you would like to donate reward money, you can contact Gina Lee on Facebook.
Contact Jamie at JHaleTBA@Gmail.com