News (USA)

LGBTQ Portland is on edge after a string of alleged bias attacks

"HATE" tattooed on someone's hand.
Photo: Shutterstock

Several Portlanders are shaken after a series of anti-LGBTQ attacks, with many pointing to a lack of law enforcement support.

In one such assault, a transgender woman reported an assault on February 10, while out during the early morning in the Buckman neighborhood in Southeast Portland.

According to her GoFundMe page, she was found unconscious after being struck from behind with a blunt instrument, and suffered numerous cuts and abrasions from the fall.

Police, however, were reluctant to take her at her word.

“I believe that it’s possible that she was drunk, fell, hit the back of her head, and blacked out,” said Officer Cuong Nguyen in a police report on the incident. “It’s also possible that she was assaulted… There is no suspect information.”

Related: They allegedly beat, raped & smeared feces on gay men. Now they face hate crime charges. 

In the wake of her attack, several others have come to light.

On Facebook, James Melanson reported his own assault, saying he was physically assaulted and called a slur. According to Melanson, police did little to help him.

“So, long story short, but I was physically assaulted by a homophobe from Maryland today. I’m fine. My chest still hurts from where he punched me,” Melanson wrote on his Facebook feed.

“The police officer did NOTHING.”

“Apparently calling someone ‘faggot’ is ‘freedom of speech,’ and if you ask the person what they’re [sic] damage is, that’s ‘disorderly conduct.’ The cop completely sympathized with the psycho, and I was tempted to ask the cop how often HE used that word.”

Melanson is planning to pursue action against the police and says he was only contacted by an officer about filing a police report after his Facebook post began to circulate and caught the attention of the chief of police. 

Many in the Portland community, including Q Center executive director Cameron Whitten, have said that the local community doesn’t trust the Portland Police Bureau with their concerns.

A recent release of texts linked police to Patriot Prayer, a far-right group that has held several protests in Portland over the last two years. Many of these protests have led to violence.

LGBTQ Portlanders are working to protect themselves, with SafeRidePDX offering free rides to the LGBTQ community and the Q Center offering self-defense classes. 

The latter is a sentiment Melanson shares after his own attack, saying he it’s important that the community arm themselves.

“If you’re queer, get a tazer [sic]. It’s the only protection you have here,” said Melanson.

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