News (USA)

Man turns himself in after video of anti-gay assault goes viral

A Detroit man was charged Sunday in connection with a a viral video that allegedly shows him pointing his gun and shouting gay slurs at a man in a convenience store, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Stephen Drake Edwards, 20, was charged with felony assault, carrying a‎ concealed weapon in a motor vehicle and felony firearm, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Periscope video, which was initially posted on Tuesday and shared and retweeted more than 20,000 times before being removed by @binswanson on Wednesday, showed Edwards using gay slurs before threatening a 23-year-old man he believed to be gay.

The video was first highlighted by Blac Detroit, which has a blow-by-blow of the since-deleted video’s content as well as the fallout on Twitter, where multiple users tagged the police to alert them to the video.

According to the Free Press:

The 32-second video was initially posted at 8:16 p.m. Tuesday and shows Edwards sitting in a car at the Brightmoor Liquor store uttering gay slurs. When the victim walks out of the convenience store, the man in the car shouts “Yo” at him to get his attention. The man ignores him initially, but as he passes the window of the car, the man in the car points a gun at him at the 22-second mark of the video while saying, “Take those pants off, bro. What the f–k you on?”

Edwards turned himself in to police on Saturday after posting a live video in apology to the LGBT community on Wednesday. His initial video got both positive and negative responses. He blamed his actions on drugs and alcohol.

“It’s always disappointing and sad,” Stephanie White, executive director of Equality Michigan told the Free Press, noting that her organization supported some 100 hate crime victim in the past year. “I mean I’m glad the police said they were investigating and clearly there are laws against threatening people and pointing guns at people. But unfortunately, what we don’t have in Michigan is hate crime laws that cover this kind of threat against LGBT people.”

Last week, Detroit officials announced the launch of an initiative focused on investigating crimes against the LGBTQ community. The Fair Michigan Project will provide assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said her office currently has 12 cases involving LGBTQ people, including six homicides.


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