ATLANTA, Ga. — One of two victims of a violent anti-gay hate crime that occurred in Midtown Atlanta in March 2014 has come forward, and is speaking out because police have made no arrests in the case.
Bryan Long, who had previously requested anonymity, is the executive director of the progressive political advocacy organization Better Georgia, and can be seen getting in-between his partner and one of two suspects in video footage of the incident.
Long says he and his partner, who prefers to remain anonymous, were holding hands at and Atlanta intersection on the evening of March 7, 2014, when an unknown suspect jumped out of a car, yelled homophobic slurs at them and then punched his partner in the back of the head, pushing him into the street and into oncoming traffic.
Atlanta police tell the GA Voice they identified the driver, thanks to cell phone video the victims took after the incident, but that he claims not to know the suspect who was riding in his car. That claim has drawn widespread skepticism from the community.
“The suspect has not been identified at this time,” Atlanta police spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy has said. “We do not know with certainty that the parties knew each other or had just met.”
Atlanta police have refused to comment on any specific questions regarding the case, saying the investigation remains open.
On Friday, Long released a statement exclusively to the GA Voice:
“Ten months ago, my partner and I were victims of a violent assault while walking in Midtown Atlanta.
“We filmed a video of the two suspects in their vehicle and immediately called 911. In the days and weeks after the assault we worked actively with the Atlanta Police Department to provide them with information — including the suspects’ license plate number — that we thought would be valuable to their investigation and assist in apprehending the attacker.
“We are thankful for recent media coverage that has raised the profile of this case and alerted the public to the fact that this case is still unsolved despite the fact that Atlanta Police has talked to the driver of the car.
“I firmly believe that the criminal justice system can and should do more to resolve this case. I have no doubt that the driver of the car knows the name of his passenger and can help the police bring this case to a close and achieve justice for me and my partner.”
Long, a former reporter for CNN, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Business Chronicle, founded the Athens-based “Better Georgia” in 2011 as a progressive response to the state’s conservative political leaders. He is also on AID Atlanta’s board of directors.
Long’s statement follows an investigation into hate crimes committed against Georgia’s LGBT community.
There were 12 anti-LGBT crimes committed in 2014 ranging from assault, to making terroristic threats to armed robbery and more. Only one arrest has been made in the 12 cases, and the Atlanta Police Department’s LGBT liaison unit was notified in only half of the incidents.
Atlanta police have since announced they are updating the department’s Standard Operating Procedure for the LGBT liaison unit so that the unit is notified immediately in all such cases.