January 4, 2012 – Santa Barbara, Ca.
Hours before the sun appeared on the horizon of The New Year, two men were brutally attacked as they were leaving a downtown nightclub and heading toward their parked car. One of three suspects reportedly accosted the pair with a derogatory verbal outburst; moments later the suspects, one of whom is described by Santa Barbara Police Department Public Information Officer Lorenzo Duarte in reports to the media as “a white male adult, 5 feet 4 inches tall and wearing a black plaid long sleeve shirt”, assaulted their victims at the entrance to a major downtown public parking structure.
The entire episode was recorded by surveillance cameras and clearly shows physical violence, which resulted in major injuries to at least one of the victims. The gay lifestyle of the victims was, according to the police report filed by investigating officers, the motivation behind the beatings.
Within hours, Santa Barbara Police released the video recording to the public in an effort to identify the perpetrators.
In a well-publicized press conference on the Figueroa Street police station the following morning, Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez appealed to the public for any help in providing information that may lead to the apprehension of the perpetrators. Clearly angered by what is portrayed on the video evidence, Sanchez declared “Hate crimes like these will not be tolerated and those responsible will be held accountable.”
Just 48 hours later, a crowd of approximately 150 community and gay activists assembled at the site of the beating to denounce what had occurred. David Selberg, Executive Director and spokesman of Pacific Pride Foundation, announced “We’re here to say we’re not afraid and we’re standing by these victims and the community.” He was accompanied by Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, herself visibly outraged by the events, who said “The City of Santa Barbara does not tolerate hate crime. Period.”
At that same gathering, Deputy Santa Barbara Police Chief Frank Mannix appeared in uniform in a display of official solidarity, remarking to the press that “Two men were assaulted because of nothing that they did wrong, but because of who they were.” Mannix announced that his department is aggressively investigating this case and that “we are very determined to make an arrest.” He appealed for the public’s help and urged those with any information to contact Detective Ken Kushner at (805) 897-2345.
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara Police Department, City of Santa Barbara Mayor’s Office
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